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Gov. Beshear signs Kentucky medical cannabis bill into law

Beshear sitting at desk handing paper to Senator Steve West, surrounded by onlookers.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear hands a copy of the new medical cannabis law to Republican Sen. Steve West, the bill's primary sponsor.

Kentuckians with certain serious medical conditions will be able to qualify for medical cannabis starting in 2025.

Kentucky will soon join 37 other states that allow cannabis to be prescribed for medical use.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed a medical cannabis bill Friday morning, the day after the measure passed out of the Republican-led legislature.

Senate Bill 47 allows Kentuckians with conditions like cancer, chronic pain, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic nausea to qualify for medical cannabis. It also leaves the door open for the University of Kentucky’s Cannabis Research Center to identify other qualifying conditions.

The policy doesn’t go into effect until 2025, and Kentuckians won’t be allowed to smoke cannabis. Vaping, edibles and other cannabis products like topical ointments will be allowed.

During a press conference Friday, Beshear said people with serious medical conditions should be able to use the drug.

“Far too many of our people face the obstacle of having chronic or terminal diseases like cancer, or those like our veterans suffering from PTSD or Kentuckians living with epilepsy, seizures, Parkinson’s or more,” he said.

The bill also creates a system to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries, cultivators, practitioners, processors and products. Those who qualify for medical cannabis prescriptions would be issued ID cards.

Medical cannabis bills had been proposed in the Kentucky legislature for years, and though the Republican-led House approved past measures, the more conservative Senate refused to take them up, until this year.

The blockade was eased after Beshear issued an executive order last November creating a process for Kentuckians to possess medical cannabis purchased legally in other states.

With the governor running for reelection this year, the legislature’s passage of the medical cannabis ensures that Beshear doesn’t get to be the sole owner of the cannabis issue. He’ll have to share credit with the Republican-dominated legislature.

At Friday’s press conference, Beshear applauded lawmakers for following up on his executive order.

“I talked about that executive order being imperfect and that we needed legislative action. And last night the General Assembly delivered,” he said.

Sen. Steve West, a Republican from Paris and primary sponsor of the bill, said the years of negotiations helped make the bill sharper.

“Senate Bill 47 is probably one of the most vetted bills in the history of the General Assembly. Going through numerous committees, being worked and reworked numerous times,” he said.