Kentucky Passes Medical Cannabis Law! What will it mean for patients?

Last week, Kentucky Governor Beshear signed Senate Bill 47, that will eventually create medical cannabis access for some KY residents. After passing through the legislature with solid support and an enthusiastic Governor, this new law lays out a fairly restrictive program with a very long implementation period.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services will have until January of 2025 to devise the rules and regulations necessary for the system. Which unfortunately, means patients will continue to suffer in the meantime.

Here is what you need to know about the new law…

Cannabis will be available to patients who receive a physician’s recommendation for one of the following conditions:

  • Any type of cancer
  • Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain
  • Epilepsy or any other seizure disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity
  • Chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Out-of-state registered patients that have a condition from the list will also be able to access medical cannabis.  Further conditions can be added by the Kentucky Center for Cannabis at their discretion.

The bill will forbid smoked cannabis to all patients and only allow those over 21 to vaporize it. Possession limits have not yet been determined but will be based upon allowing a patient a 30-day supply.

Besides arrest, SB 47 will protect patients from some civil and professional penalties. It unfortunately still allows employers to prohibit their employees from using medical cannabis, but will prevent a person’s status as a cannabis patient, or their use of cannabis, to be held against them in issues of parental rights or custody, or from being treated any differently than any prescribed medication when receiving medical care, including organ transplants.

The law does allow for the delivery of cannabis to registered patients and encourages patient education. 

Besides a few basic testing requirements (which will be flushed out by the forthcoming regulations) the bill also, interestingly, requires terpene testing.

Unfortunately, the bill continues to penalize those already harmed by the drug war by imposing criminal background requirements on licensed business employees and prevents medical professionals who recommend cannabis from working with licensed businesses. 

Another major flaw to this bill is that it allows cities, counties and other jurisdictions to completely prohibit the presence of medical cannabis facilities. This means that some patients will, invariably, be forced to travel far from home to access their medicine.

Despite many significant flaws we are pleased to say that this bill is an important step and will bring access to many Kentuckians who are currently unable to access medical cannabis. We applaud the advocates whose hard work made this possible and thank Governor Beshear and the legislature for its passage. We look forward to helping to improve this program and get the people of Kentucky the safe access they deserve.

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