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Kentucky and Cannabis. What You Should Know

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The medical marijuana train has rolled around to Kentucky. Though the medical program is yet to be fully unveiled, the state is finally making moves.

Kentucky residents have been waiting for a while now, and this wait begs questions like, “Is marijuana legal in Kentucky?” or “Can I get a KY marijuana card?” and even “What are the Kentucky marijuana bills?”

Don’t panic: Elevate Holistics is here to answer those questions and more. Let’s get right to it.

Yes, medical marijuana is legal in Kentucky as of January 1st, 2023. 

In February 2022, Republican Rep., Jason Nemes, brought a marijuana legalization bill to the Kentucky state legislature, and in March, the Kentucky House passed the bill. After a long and challenging process, lawmakers voted 59-34 to legalize medical marijuana and sent it to the Senate for approval.

Democratic Rep. Al Gentry, who co-sponsored the legalization bill named House Bill 136, said, “I know real people that had their lives turned around by these products, and a lot of them are living in the closet or living in secrecy because they feel like they’re a criminal.” He added, “Please, let’s pass this and allow some people to move on and live a happy life.”

His appeal fell on deaf ears as the bill stalled in the Senate, where most Republicans, including top leaders like President Robert Stivers and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, opposed it.

But that wasn’t the end of the MMJ debate. 


The Governor’s Intervention

All hope is not lost as Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, vowed to explore executive action. He laid out steps that include the creation of an advisory team and a listening tour around the state to get a feel of public opinion.

Beshear stated, “Most of these steps are about hearing from you, the public, so that your voice is heard by the executive branch — even if it’s ignored by the legislative branch.” He added that “it’s time that a couple of individuals that are out of touch with the vast majority of Kentuckians on this issue stop obstructing it, and we’re able to move forward.”

Thus, in March 2022, the Kentucky House finally voted to legalize medical cannabis in The Bluegrass State. Unfortunately, while this decision was paramount for residents, the state has yet to create an actual MMJ program for consumers. This means that, while medical cannabis may be legal for cardholders, there aren’t any dispensaries for them to shop from.

Well, a licensed dispensary won’t sell you medical marijuana if you don’t have an MMJ card. It’s as simple as that.

When you have an MMJ card, you have legal protection. Law enforcement won’t arrest or fine you for possession and use of medical cannabis (as long as you’re following regulations). If you’re caught with medical marijuana and don’t have an MMJ card, you’ll face the consequences of the law even if you claim you’re using it for therapeutic purposes.

Your MMJ card allows you to buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries. The benefit here is immense because licensed dispensaries undergo strict regulatory supervision, so you can be guaranteed you’re buying quality products. Unlicensed and unregulated marijuana can be harmful and might add to the problem you’re trying to solve.

When Kentucky marijuana laws change, the first thing you’ll need is an MMJ card, and we can help with that.

The proposed marijuana legalization bill in Kentucky is one of the most conservative in the country, and it prohibits home cultivation. 

If medical marijuana does become legal, you can get it only at a licensed dispensary. Also, smoking it is not permitted, but you’ll be able to consume it via a vaporizer.

One thing we know for sure is that Kentucky residents want medical marijuana. According to a poll conducted in 2020, nine out of ten or 90% of Kentucky residents support legalizing medical marijuana. That’s a whopping increase of 12% from 2012 when support was 78%.

So, yes, doctors can recommend medical cannabis if they believe it will help your condition.

Medical marijuana in Kentucky is not legal, so you will find that there’s no recreational marijuana legalization in Kentucky either. Despite the desire of the voters to have medical cannabis, it’s being held up by the state government. There is no set time for when or if it will go into effect the same way that it has in many other states.

Recreational marijuana is even more of a worry for the lawmakers in the state. Despite many other states in the country already having passed recreational weed laws, Kentucky worries about crime and other issues… even though those purported issues have not been a problem in those other states.

However, residents of Kentucky are allowed to buy hemp-derived CBD products that have 0.3% THC or less. These products without THC may have some benefits for people, but they do not have the same benefits that are found with products that contain THC.

THC is the compound in marijuana that causes the feeling of being high. It’s also what helps people to deal with nausea, pain, and so many of the other symptoms for which medical marijuana is often prescribed.

Currently, there is no such thing as a Kentucky medical license or card for marijuana. Because it is still considered illegal in the state, you will not be able to apply for or receive one of these cards at this time.

What can people in the state do if they feel they truly need to have one of these cards? The short answer is that it’s not possible. If the CBD products do not work, the only real option would be to move to another state that doesn’t have the strict Kentucky marijuana laws.

Of course, it’s not a reasonable solution for most people who live in Kentucky. Moving is costly and it would require uprooting from family and friends. However, those who have serious health issues that could benefit from medical marijuana might want to see whether it is feasible for them or not.

In order to get a medical card in Kentucky, you have to first meet with a qualified physician. This physician will determine whether or not they believe that medical marijuana can be beneficial to you.

If they think it will help your medical condition, they will recommend you MMJ. From there, you will turn to the state’s registry to apply to the state and get your physical MMJ card.

Unfortunately, the MMJ program in Kentucky is not yet fully fleshed out; thus, there are no dispensaries for you to shop from.

Although a lot of states have passed laws that have helped to loosen restrictions on medical and recreational marijuana, Kentucky is still behind the times on enacting changes in their state.

Currently, the possession and sale of marijuana are almost entirely illegal. In April of 2014, a law was passed that allowed patients to use CBD, as mentioned. Currently, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor if you are in possession of fewer than five plants. It is considered a Class D felony if you have five or more plants. There are also laws relating to the possession of weed on your person.

If it’s anything under 8 ounces, even an amount that someone might have just for themselves, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor and is prima facie evidence of intent to sell. From 8 ounces to 5 lbs., it becomes a Class D felony. Over 5 lbs. is a Class C felony.

The state still takes marijuana possession, growth, and use seriously. Using marijuana in Kentucky could cause some serious legal problems for you if you’re not a cardholder. The best thing you can do is register with the state and get your hands on a KY MMJ card, allowing you to enjoy your products in peace.

No, you are not allowed to buy marijuana seeds in Kentucky. The state does not want you growing your own plants, as mentioned above. Buying seeds and trying to grow them could cause legal problems for you. You will not find seeds for sale, at least not legally.

Just as you can’t possess marijuana in Kentucky and you can’t buy seeds, you also can’t grow. Keep in mind that in many states, it is legal to have up to six plants for a person living alone and up to 12 when there are more than two people in a household. These would be considered felonies in Kentucky. It is dangerous to try to grow, whether you are doing it in the privacy of your home or if you think you have a hidden spot in the woods. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the law.

You can have exactly zero plants for medical marijuana or recreational marijuana for that matter. As discussed above, it has still not been made legal. Having marijuana plants on your property is illegal, and when the authorities find out, it can lead to some major consequences, even if you only have a few plants.

Despite MMJ being legal in The Bluegrass State, Kentucky dispensaries do not yet exist.

Once more is known about how and when medical marijuana will finally be implemented in the state, it’s likely more companies will start to look into how they can get a dispensary up and running.

How To Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

As we’ve said, there’s yet to be a medical marijuana program in Kentucky, so there’s a lot we don’t know yet. We are hoping that with the legalization of MMJ, the state will soon release more details surrounding medical cannabis and cardholders.


Nonetheless, we expect that Kentucky will have similar rules to other states that have legalized medical marijuana, so you’ll likely need to meet the following requirements to get medical marijuana:

  • a qualifying medical condition
  • a doctor’s recommendation
  • be a state resident 


The program will decide on a complete list of qualifying conditions once HB 136 becomes law. But for now, the list includes:

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Card Application

First, intending patients will have to consult with a doctor who will speak with them to determine if they will benefit from medical marijuana. They may also advise the patient on possible interactions between marijuana and other drugs they may be on.

If the doctor is satisfied, they will issue a recommendation for medical marijuana to the patient. HB 136 stipulates that patients can only use a doctor with whom they have a “bonafide practitioner-patient relationship.”

Also, medical professionals such as podiatrists, optometrists, and dentists cannot prescribe or recommend medical marijuana to patients.

Once the patient has been approved, they will go through the state’s registry with their medical cannabis recommendation to get their physical cards.

Kentucky Dispensaries

The medical marijuana laws in Kentucky are not fully clear, even though now being legal. That being said, dispensaries are not yet up and running. When things are in place, and dispensaries are operational, we’ll be the first to let you know.

Right now, cardholders must travel to other recreational legal states in order to enjoy their medical cannabis products.

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Bill

Advocates of medical marijuana legalization in Kentucky are doing everything to see that it is legalized.

In 2015, House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 40 proposed a medical cannabis program in Kentucky, but they failed to make it beyond the committee level. In 2020, Republican Rep. Jason Nemes sponsored House Bill 136 to legalize medical marijuana, and for the first time ever, such a bill made it all the way to the House.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the current efforts. Then, they reintroduced the bill in March 2022 when the House voted in favor and sent it to the Senate. While the Senate opposed it at first, the House finally voted to legalize it, making MMJ legal as of January 1st, 2023.

Stay Up to Date With Elevate Holistics

Simply put, cannabis is nature’s gift. We believe these therapeutic benefits should be available to everyone; that’s why we set up this one-stop service for everything cannabis.

When medical marijuana becomes available in Kentucky, and the Kentucky marijuana laws change, Elevate Holistics will strive to help you get your MMJ card, find a physician or locate a licensed dispensary.

So, if you have more questions about KY MMJ laws, how to get a grower’s license in Kentucky, Kentucky marijuana reciprocity, and more, get in touch with us today.

Learn more about medical marijuana laws in your state by clicking here.

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