Last Friday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 into law, which legalizes medical cannabis in the commonwealth. But there will be a wait until the state’s program kicks in.
Governor Beshear had again urged lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis “this session” after SB47 cleared the Senate last month. The legislation then went on to clear the House on March 30 and the governor wasted no time; giving it his formal blessing the following day.
While some legal protection for medical patients was implemented back in January thanks to a November executive order from the governor, it was less than ideal – a situation Governor Beshear acknowledged. But he had hoped the order would then exert pressure on lawmakers.
“In November, I signed an executive order to help Kentuckians with certain medical conditions, like our veterans suffering from PTSD, find safe and effective relief through medical cannabis,” Governor Beshear said. “Now, I am finally able to sign this legislation into law and fully legalize medical cannabis – something the majority of Kentuckians support.”
SB47 sponsor Senator Stephen West described the legislation as “momentous”.
“The signing of SB 47 comes after about five years of hard-fought legislative efforts,” he said. “This bill is how the legislative process should work.”
Matthew Bratcher, Executive Director of Kentucky NORML, said the bill signing as an incredible victory.
“For years, Kentuckians have been calling for medical cannabis legalization and now they will have the freedom to safely access regulated, therapeutic products right here at home.”
But there is still much work to be done. Senate Bill 47 does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2025, but the Governor’s executive order will remain in effect. The bill establishes a structure to regulate the medical cannabis program; including:
- identification cards for patients and caregivers.
The bill also establishes the authorization process for practitioners to recommend medicinal cannabis use, and establishes a cannabis business license application process and requirements. Regulations will need to be finalized by January 1, 2024.
The full details of SB47 can be found here.
Kentucky joins a total of 37 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have enabled comprehensive medical cannabis access. (Full Story)