Kentucky medical cannabis businesses can apply for licenses this summer

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Kentucky medical cannabis operators can apply for business licenses as early as July, setting up an MMJ market launch in early 2025.

House Bill 829, which Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law Thursday after it easily passed through the state senate’s Republican supermajority, allows MMJ growers, processors and dispensaries to gain license approval this summer.

But the new law contains several restrictions that could stymie growth and expansion, according to Louisville Public Media.

Consuming medical marijuana in Kentucky will be allowed only through vaping, pills and edibles.

A strict prohibition against smoking MMJ remained in the final bill, and a ban on smoking vape cartridges in public was added.

School boards can prohibit consumption and possession of MMJ on campus, and religious private schools can refuse to enroll cardholders, according to Lexington radio station WUKY.

The bill also provides optouts for local governments to restrict MMJ businesses, a nationwide challenge facing most regulated markets.

A proposal to widely expand qualifying conditions for medical cannabis patients also failed to make the cut.

Patients will be eligible for medical cannabis only if they have been diagnosed with:

  • Cancer.
  • Chronic nausea.
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorders.
  • Multiple sclerosis or muscle spasms.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Severe pain.

The new law also prohibits outdoor grows, a potential problem considering the legislation favors licensing local hemp growers.

According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 99.9% of the hemp grown in the state in 2023 was outdoors, Louisville Public Radio reported.