Bill to Legalize Medical Marijuana Passed by Kentucky Legislature, Sent to Supportive Governor

Kentucky’s full legislature has now given approval to legislation that will make their state the 39th to legalize medical marijuana.

The House of Representatives voted 66 to 33 today to pass Senate Bill 47, which has already passed the Senate 26 to 11. It now heads to the desk of Governor Andy Beshea, who says he supports the measure and is expected to quickly sign it into law. The bill’s passage in the House came on the last day of the 2023 legislative session.

Senate Bill 47 allows someone with a recommendation from a physician or advanced practice registered nurse  to become an authorized medical marijuana patient. This will allow them to purchase marijuana and marijuana products from a licensed dispensary. Although smoking marijuana isn’t allowed, dried flower is still permitted for vaping, and patients will be able to obtain marijuana through a variety of other products such as pills and tinctures. The law would also recognize “valid out-of-state registry identification cards”.

The bill states that the “acquisition, blending, cultivation, delivery, distribution, manufacturing,  manipulation, packaging for sale, preparation, possession, sale, testing, transportation, or transfer of medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis accessories by a cannabis business or cannabis business agent shall be considered lawful”.

Under the law the state is required to license at least 25 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. They would also be required to license at least 15 cultivators, five processors and three producers.

Those allowed to issue medical marijuana authorizations are “a physician or an advanced practice registered nurse who is authorized to prescribe controlled substances under KRS and who is authorized by his or her state licensing board to provide written certifications.”

Qualifying medical marijuana conditions include:

  • Any type or form of cancer regardless of stage;
  • Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain;
  • Epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder;
  • Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity;
  • Chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome that has proven resistant to other conventional medical treatments;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Any other medical condition or disease for which the Kentucky Center for Cannabis established in KRS 164.983, or its successor, determines that sufficient scientific data and evidence exists to demonstrate that an individual diagnosed with that condition or disease is likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from the use of medicinal cannabis.

The bill would also provide rental protections for patients, stating that “A landlord shall not refuse to lease to, or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder, unless failing to do so would violate federal law or regulations and cause the landlord to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”

In addition, the measure clarifies that “No landlord may be penalized or denied any benefit under state law for leasing to a cardholder”, and that “a landlord shall not include in a rental agreement terms and conditions that prohibit the use of medicinal cannabis by a cardholder.

Another provision of the bill states that a medical marijuana patient “otherwise entitled to custody of, or visitation time or parenting time with, a minor child shall not be denied that right, and there shall be no presumption of abuse, neglect, or dependency for conduct permitted under Sections 1 to 30 of this Act unless the person’s actions in relation to medicinal cannabis created an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor child as established by clear and convincing evidence.”

In regards to out-of-state patients, the bill says:

A visiting qualified patient shall not be subject, under the laws of the Commonwealth, to arrest, prosecution, or denial of any right or privilege, including but not limited to civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court or occupational or professional licensing board, for the use of medicinal cannabis, if the visiting qualified patient does not possess more than an amount of medicinal cannabis determined by the cabinet to constitute an uninterrupted ten (10) day supply on his or her person.

For the full text of Kentucky’s Senate Bill 47, click here.

In the U.S. there are currently 38 states with legal medical marijuana. Kentucky is one of just 12 that have not legalized medical marijuana, although Senate Bill 47 will change that once it’s signed into law.

Senate Bill 47 will take effect on January 1, 2025.

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