Cannabis appears to be moving toward partial legalization in Kentucky, if slowly. A proposal to legalize the use of cannabis by people with certain medical conditions, SB 47, is currently before the full Kentucky Senate.
If the bill were to make it into law, people diagnosed with qualifying medical conditions could get cannabis legally if a doctor recommended it. However, they would have to vaporize it or take it via tincture, capsule or topical application. It would remain illegal to smoke marijuana in Kentucky.
The exact list of qualifying conditions is currently being finalized. Based on other legalization efforts, however, the list is likely to include things like cancer, epilepsy and seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and other conditions where there is evidence of success with cannabis treatment.
The bill also does not specify exactly how a legal medical cannabis market would be put into place. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services would be responsible for drafting and implementing legislation to allow legal production and regulated sales.
In order to become law, SB 47 has to pass by a majority vote in the full senate and then an identical bill must pass the house of representatives. Only when that happens can it move forward for the governor’s signature, which makes it law.
Since 2020, the Kentucky House has twice passed bills that would have legalized medical marijuana in the state, but neither of those efforts gained traction in the senate.
That could be different this year, according to Forbes. At least two senators who opposed the previous bills have been persuaded to vote for this one. Both cited testimonials from constituents as the reason for their change of heart.
Moreover, Governor Andy Beshear is an outspoken supporter of legalizing medical cannabis. In January, he called upon the legislature to pass a bill for him to sign.