Kentucky Makes Medical Marijuana Licensing Faster

Home » Kentucky Makes Medical Marijuana Licensing Faster
Garry Stewart
Written By Steve Brandon

April 16, 2024

Table of Content
  1. Introduction
  2. Take Away
kentucky makes medical marijuana licensing faster

It’s looking more likely that patients in Kentucky will soon have access to medical cannabis starting January 2025. The state government is working to speed up the process, aiming to issue licences to businesses earlier than expected.

The medical cannabis program in Kentucky was established by Senate Bill 47 in 2023, set to kick off on January 1, 2025. However, the original plan meant that cannabis growers couldn’t start planting until they were licensed that same year. This delay would have meant dispensaries might not have had cannabis ready for patients until later in the year.

Now, with the passing of House Bill 829, things are changing. The new law allows businesses to apply for licences to grow, process, and sell cannabis as early as this summer. The bill received strong support from both sides of the political spectrum, although only Republicans voted against it.

Republican Sen. Stephen West, who was also the lead author of SB 47, explained that the aim was to ensure there would be enough cannabis ready for patients as soon as it became legal. This means businesses can start growing the product early so that it’s available right from the start of 2025.

The new bill, HB 829, also respects the decisions of local governments. It allows city and county governments to choose whether or not they want to participate in the medical cannabis program. They can choose not to participate by the end of 2024, canceling any licenses given in their areas. Local governments can cancel licenses until 2025.

Businesses hoping to get licenses will need to wait for the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program to release its final regulations on licensing applications, expected before July. The bill also gives priority to Kentucky-based growers who are already licensed hemp growers in good standing with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

kentucky makes medical marijuana licensing faster
However, the bill has some strict rules:

  • Medical cannabis cannot be grown outdoors; it must be in secure indoor facilities.
  • Additionally, smoking medical marijuana is not allowed, only vaping, pills, and edibles.
  • There’s also a new rule prohibiting vaping medical cannabis in public.

Despite efforts to expand the list of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis, the final bill did not increase the number. Patients will only qualify if they have cancer, severe pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Board of Physicians and Advisers, a group of medical professionals appointed to oversee the program, recommended expanding the list to include conditions like Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy. However, the current list remains limited to the original conditions.

The state budget now requires that funds for the Office of Medical Cannabis will only be given if there is strong medical research showing that medical cannabis works.

While a previous version of the bill required patients to get approval from a pharmacist before purchasing cannabis, this requirement was removed in the final version. Instead, the bill now includes one pharmacist as a member of the Board of Physicians and Advisers.

The recent confirmation of seven members of the Board of Physicians and Advisers brings Kentucky closer to the availability of medical cannabis, a significant step for patients seeking alternative treatment options.

Take Away

Kentucky is nearing the availability of medical cannabis in 2025 with the passing of House Bill 829. Businesses can now apply for licenses to grow, process, and sell cannabis, aiming for products by January 2025. Local governments can “opt out” until 2025. The program has strict rules: indoor cultivation only, no smoking, and limited qualifying conditions. Despite efforts to expand conditions, the list remains small. Funds are allocated based on medical research, and pharmacist approval is no longer required. Confirmation of the Board of Physicians and Advisers members is a significant step toward accessibility for patients.

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