On March 31, 2023, Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 into law, making Kentucky the latest state to legalize cannabis for medical use with a qualifying prescription. This new legislation will authorize the legal sale and at-home use of cannabis products for medical purposes effective January 1, 2025. Under Senate Bill 47, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will be responsible for the implementation, operation, oversight, and regulation of the program, as well as the issuance of licenses to cannabis businesses.
To be eligible to receive a medical cannabis card under the program, patients must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition including:
- Any type or form of cancer regardless of the stage;
- Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain;
- Epilepsy or any other intractable seizure disorder;
- Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity;
- Chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome; or
- Post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition to the list of diagnoses specifically mentioned in the statute, the Cabinet will have the authority to add other medical conditions to the list if it determines that scientific evidence exists to demonstrate that an individual diagnosed with that condition or disease is likely to receive medical, therapeutic, or palliative benefits from the use of medical cannabis.
This law does not permit either at-home cannabis cultivation by a cardholder or the consumption of cannabis flower. Instead, patients will be able to consume medical cannabis in vaporizers or edible products. In addition to the provisions regarding individual patients, the law also creates a framework for licensed commercial cannabis cultivation and dispensation in Kentucky. License categories for cannabis businesses include three tiers of cultivators (based on the square footage of the indoor growth area) as well as producers, processors, suppliers, safety compliance facilities, and dispensaries.
The bill also brings changes for medical and legal practitioners. A medical cannabis practitioner must be approved by the state medical board to write cannabis prescriptions. Attorneys will not be subject to penalties for providing legal services to clients for activities legalized by Senate Bill 47. Other professionals will not be subject to such penalties for providing accounting, financial, security, or business consulting services.
Finally, Senate Bill 47 also provides protections for employers and the insurance industry. The law does not require employers to permit the use of medical cannabis in the workplace or prohibit employers from enforcing drug testing or drug-free workplace policies. The bill also does not require a government medical assistance program, private health insurer, or workers’ compensation carrier, or self-funded employer to reimburse patients for medical cannabis.
Should you have any questions about this legislation, please contact one of the co-chairs of Reminger’s Cannabis and Hemp Law Practice Group, Mark Bush and Nathan Lennon.
- Ft. Mitchell