Kentucky lawmakers approve Medical Cannabis access legislation
“Today is an incredible victory for Kentucky,” said Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director of Kentucky NORML.
“For years, Kentuckians have been calling for medical cannabis legalization, and with this passage they will soon have the freedom to safely access regulated, therapeutic products right here at home. While there is still much work to be done, this is a historic first step and we look forward to continuing our work representing Kentucky patients.”
The measure now awaits action from Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who supports the change in law. In November, Gov. Beshear signed an executive order providing legal protections for qualifying patients who obtain medical cannabis products from out-of-state. In December, members of Kentucky NORML and others met with the Governor to emphasize the need for medical cannabis legalization.
Senate Bill 47 directs the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to implement a medical cannabis access program. Under the plan, patients with chronic pain, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress, spasticity, and other designated conditions will be able to obtain an uninterrupted 30-day supply of medical cannabis. Qualified patients who test positive for the presence of carboxy-THC on a urine drug test “shall not be considered to be under the influence.” The bill further adds, “A registered qualified patient or visiting qualified patient who uses medicinal cannabis shall be afforded all the same rights under state and local law … as the individual would have been afforded if he or she were solely prescribed pharmaceutical medications as they pertain to drug testing required by any state or local law.” Patients cannot face discrimination with respect to medical procedures (e.g., organ transplants), child visitation, or school enrollment solely due to their medical cannabis patient status.
Home cultivation of cannabis is not permitted under the legislation. Regulations governing the program would need to be finalized by January 1, 2024.
Upon enactment, Kentucky will be the 38th state to regulate medical cannabis production and distribution.