A Breakthrough for Kentuckians: SB 47 Legalizes Medical Cannabis

After many years of failed attempts in the state legislature, Kentucky Bill SB 47 – which legalizes medical cannabis – received final passage on Thursday March 30th just hours before the adjournment of the 2023 session. Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law last Friday (3-31-23) morning before a bipartisan crowd of legislators and advocates, making Kentucky the 38th state to legalize medical cannabis. With implementation slated for early 2025, this new bill opens up significantly more opportunities for patients seeking access to cannabis treatments and symptom relief.

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The passing of Kentucky Bill SB 47 certainly caused celebration among advocates who have long championed its passage. It also provides hope to those suffering from debilitating conditions, as now they can look forward to improved access to medical marijuana treatments in the state. While the bill restricts smokable cannabis products and limits those eligible for the program to 18 years old or older (or an adult caregiver), its passage is a positive step forward for patient access to medical marijuana treatments in Kentucky.

Kentucky SB 47

Kentucky Bill SB 47 outlines the eligibility requirements for a person to receive marijuana in the state’s program. These include any type or form of cancer regardless of the stage; chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain; epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder; multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, and chronic nausea that has proved resistant to conventional medical treatments; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In addition to these conditions, a patient could also be eligible if diagnosed with any medical condition or disease for which the brand new establishment of the Kentucky Center for Cannabis at the University of Kentucky determines through its data and research is “likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from the use of medicinal cannabis.”

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Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will administer and regulate the program, tasked with setting up mentation, operation, oversight, and regulation. Additionally, smokable cannabis products are prohibited from being sold or distributed under Kentucky Bill SB 47.

Eligible people with a valid written certification from a doctor could possess and use medical cannabis if it were legally purchased in another nearby state. However, Kentuckians may not possess more than eight ounces of marijuana at any given time.

The written certification from the medical provider must contain the name, address, and phone number of both the patient and the medical provider.

The written certification from the physician must also include their medical license number, a statement indicating they have a bona fide provider-patient relationship, their diagnosis of the medical condition, and the provider’s signature and date.

Where can Kentuckians purchase cannabis after passing SB 47?

After SB 47 is implemented, Kentuckians cannot purchase medical cannabis in the state because there are no retailers. However, they may be able to purchase it legally in other states, such as Illinois, Virginia, and Missouri because of an executive order issued by Governor Beshear last Nov.

Of those neighboring states, Illinois and Missouri is currently the only one where recreational cannabis can be legally purchased.

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