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Smoking weed still illegal under medical cannabis law passed by Kentucky legislature

Marijuana plants at a growing facility in New York.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File
Marijuana plants are seen at a growing facility in New York.

Starting in January 2025, Kentuckians will be able to purchase medical cannabis in-state. House Bill 829 has passed legislature and heads to the governor’s desk.

Governor Beshear has issued multiple executive orders surrounding medical cannabis over the past few years, including one which grants full pardon to those accused of cannabis possession under certain conditions: the amount must be under 8 ounces, legally purchased outside the state of Kentucky but within the USA, and the person in possession must have a written diagnosis of a qualifying medical condition.

In 2023, SB 47 passed, which legislatively established the state’s medical cannabis program and allows patients to access the drug legally starting January 2025.

Now, with the senate’s final passage of HB 829, medical dispensaries in state will be able to apply for licensing as early as July.

"In essence, all 829 does is set up the Office of Medical Cannabis and carries out the provisions of SB 47 as was passed last year," said Senator Stephen West.

However, HB 829 makes allowances for restrictions on medical canabis at county, city, and campus levels. School boards can prohibit consumption and possession of medical cannabis on campus, and religious private schools can refuse to enroll a cardholder as a student.

"Cities and counties have the opportunity to take a local vote. They can also pass ordinances that prohibit implementation," said West. "If someone is licensed before that time, it's buyer beware; they will have to take that into account as they apply for the license."

Cardholders will be able to purchase cannabis in multiple forms, including as vapes, edibles, and tinctures. Smoking cannabis, however, will remain illegal under current legislation.