Kentucky lawmakers OK medical cannabis legalization, send bill to governor

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Image of Kentucky state capitol building

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(This story was updated at 6:46 p.m. ET with details and a quote.)

The Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation legalizing medical cannabis, sending the bill to Gov. Andy Beshear for his expected signature.

The move puts Kentucky on track to become the 40th state to approve the legalization of medical cannabis.

The relatively restrictive measure, Senate Bill 47, would legalize medical cannabis for people suffering from a short list of familiar illnesses, including cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and PTSD.

The measure would impose a 35% THC cap on flower products and a limit of 10% per serving on edibles, oils and tinctures.

The legislation – approved by a 66-33 vote on the last day of Kentucky’s General Assembly – also would set a 70% THC limit on concentrates.

If the legislation is signed into law, the state would license cannabis producers, processors, dispensaries and testing labs.

Four tiers of cultivation licenses would be issued, with permitted indoor growing space ranging from 2,500 square feet to 50,00 square feet.

There would be no license caps.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

Beshear, who last fall issued an executive order allowing Kentucky residents to legally possess MMJ legally purchased in other states, is expected to sign the legalization bill into law.

While the legislation would establish an MMJ program that is more restrictive than those in other states, Kentucky is a key state for cannabis nationwide.

The state is a major center for hemp production, and companies there are major players in the CBD and delta-8 THC markets.

It’s also the home state of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose support is indispensable for federal reform.

“While SB47 is more restrictive compared to some state medical cannabis laws, it is a vital step forward toward meeting the needs of patients in Kentucky,” Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.

According to MPP, the bill also would:

  • Bar patients from smoking marijuana.
  • Permit the use of raw cannabis for vaporization.
  • Prohibit home cultivation.

The Cabinet of Health and Family Services would oversee and regulate the program.