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Kentucky Governor Signs Executive Order To Allow Use of Medical Cannabis

Andy Beshear, a Democratic Governor from Kentucky signed Tuesday an executive order authorizing medical marijuana use for certain patients. The order will allow Kentuckians to begin using medical marijuana in the next year for those with serious medical conditions.

“Kentuckians suffering from chronic and terminal conditions are going to be able to get the treatment they need without living in fear of a misdemeanor,” Beshear said in a statement from the governor’s office. “With 37 states already legalizing medical cannabis and 90% of Kentucky adults supporting it, I am doing what I can to provide access and relief to those who meet certain conditions and need it to better enjoy their life, without pain.”

Beshear’s executive order authorizes patients with at least one of 21 medical conditions including cancer, terminal illness, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder to use medical marijuana. Medical cannabis must be bought in an authorized state to comply with this executive order. The receipt must also be kept by the patient. The amount of marijuana you can possess is restricted to 8 ounces. That is how much marijuana in Kentucky is legal. A certified medical provider must also sign off that the patient is diagnosed with one or more of these conditions.

He also stated that law enforcement officers are currently developing guidelines to assist them in quickly determining who can use or possess medical cannabis. Beshear also emphasized that his executive order is not a substitute for “much-needed legislation to fully legalize medical cannabis.” The governor plans to work with lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to advocate for comprehensive medical marijuana legalization, “which would further provide relief for those suffering, fuel job growth and support Kentucky’s farmers.”

Panel Finds Strong Support For Legalizing Marijuana

The executive order follows the failure of the state legislature to pass legislation earlier this year and Beshear’s creation of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee in June. The panel traveled throughout the state, hosting town hall meetings to listen to Kentuckians’ views on the legalization of medical marijuana. In addition to the town hall meetings, the state’s medical cannabis website allowed Kentuckians to submit their opinions online. This website was visited by 3,539 people. 98.64% expressed their support for the legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky. On September 30, Beshear released a summary of the committee’s work that showed a majority of Kentuckians agree that it is past time for the state to take action on legalizing medical cannabis.

“Our committee met good people all across the commonwealth who are suffering from terrible chronic conditions that are relieved by medical cannabis,” said Kerry Harvey, co-chair of the committee and secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. “This is real-world experience, not conjecture. The Governor’s action will improve the quality of life for these Kentuckians, but more should be done in the coming legislative session.”

“It took bravery to overcome anxiety and often physical pain to stand up at a town hall meeting, but people did it to make sure their story was heard. Not only for themselves, but also for the benefit of family members, friends and others facing a similar condition,” added Ray Perry, co-chair of the committee and secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet. “Each story made it clear that people are finding real relief from chronic conditions with medical cannabis.”

Kentucky Governor Issues Second Executive Order to Regulate Delta-8 THC

Beshear also signed Tuesday’s second executive order that regulates delta-8, which is a psychoactive compound made from hemp. He noted that neither delta-8 nor at the federal level is controlled in Kentucky. However, a Kentucky court has declared that it is legal.

“Right now, there are no checks on how it is packaged and sold. We must establish a regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth,” Beshear said. “The structure can and will also serve as a template for when the General Assembly fully legalizes medical cannabis. That means we can learn in real-time, train our people and be ready to go.”

The governor’s office noted that a total of 37 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved legislation to allow cannabis for medical use by qualified individuals. Additionally, Kentucky’s neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and West Virginia have legalized medical cannabis.

“This is not a red or blue issue,” Beshear said. “It is about our people and helping those who are in pain and suffering.”

Beshear’s executive order to legalize marijuana is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023.