Could Kentucky be the next state to decriminalize cannabis?

kentucky cannabis

Kentucky adults may soon be able to possess, grow, and consume cannabis without fear of retribution. Rep. Nima Kulkarni (D) introduced HB 72 last week after a similar measure that would have put the topic to the voters failed to advance in the last session.

The bill calls for an end to penalties and prosecution for personal use. Sales would still be strictly prohibited.

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If passed, adults over 21 could possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower, five grams of hemp or cannabis-derived concentrate, 1,000 milligrams or less of delta-8 and delta-9 THC, and up to five cannabis plants.

HB 72 also calls for automatically expunging criminal records for anyone whose charges would now be lawful

Rep. Kulkarni has been an outspoken proponent of legalization in Kentucky, saying last year, “For decades, the failed and irrational War on Drugs has ensured that we have arrested, prosecuted, and jailed millions of Americans for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses.”

The personal possession and plant count math may be a sticking point of the legislation, given that one cannabis plant can easily produce upwards of one pound (16 ounces) of flower under the right conditions. The bill calls for civil penalties of $1,000 per plant that is out of compliance and $3.50 per gram of harvested bud over the one-ounce limit.

Kentucky legalized medical cannabis in 2023, with a somewhat limited qualifying condition list that includes cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Governor Andy Beshear recently called to expand this list in a move that would see approximately 437,000 more Kentuckians qualify for the program. An updated list would benefit those living with HIV/AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Crohn’s, and glaucoma. 

The decriminalization bill faces a long road to passage, and it remains to be seen if it will make it to the governor’s desk. Several of Kentucky’s neighbors have already enacted adult-use legalization, including Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. While HB 72 is not total reform, it’s a step in the right direction for proponents of the plant.


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter