Kentucky governor signs bill to legalize medical cannabis

Photo of nighttime landscape of downtown Louisville, KY

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 (SB47) into law, legalizing the medical use of cannabis. Under the guidance of SB47, patients are permitted to ingest or vaporize cannabis and possess specified amounts of cannabis on their person and in their homes but are not allowed to grow the plant.

In a Friday press release, Governor Beshear said, “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. Now, I am finally able to sign this legislation into law and fully legalize medical cannabis – something the majority of Kentuckians support.”

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will oversee the program, and a Board of Physicians and Advisors will be appointed. The Board will determine what constitutes one day’s worth of medical cannabis, as SB47 dictates patients can possess “10-day’s worth” of cannabis on their person and “30-day’s worth” in their homes before violating the laws. Certifying practitioners to write recommendations for medical cannabis regulation will also fall under the purview of the Board. In addition, SB47 dictates no flower should exceed 35 percent THC, extracts must cap at 70 percent THC, and edibles should not exceed 10 milligrams.

“Kentuckians who are suffering will finally be able to have access to safe, legal medical cannabis. We applaud the Kentucky legislature for recognizing the value of medical cannabis and passing legislation that will help provide relief and meet the needs of patients with serious medical conditions throughout the state, and are also grateful for the governor’s championing of this compassionate issue,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

SB47 introduced licenses for three tiers of cultivators, producers, processors, safety compliance facilities, and dispensaries. The bill also gives local governments the right to opt out of allowing cannabis businesses to operate in their localities while granting citizens who want to opt back in the right to petition.

The bill’s passing marks a conscious step by legislators to address opioid addiction in their municipalities, “It is a true honor to be here today to celebrate this momentous legislation. For far too long, we have had to depend on the pharmaceutical companies pushing substances that have been a bane to rural Kentucky. I come from Eastern Kentucky, and I have seen firsthand the devastation that opioids have brought on my region,” Sen. Phillip Wheeler of Pikeville said in a press release distributed by the state.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets. 

Cara Wietstock