Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's executive order on medical marijuana goes into effect Sunday, but it has several limitations, so advocates are working with lawmakers, hoping to get a bill passed on the issue during the 2023 legislative session.
The executive order allows some Kentuckians to possess marijuana, but there are conditions.
First, the cannabis must be lawfully purchased in the United States in a state where the purchase is legal and regulated. There must also be a receipt that proves that the cannabis was bought in one of those places.
This could make getting medical marijuana difficult for many Kentucky residents, especially those in Northern Kentucky. Ohio's medical marijuana law requires customers to be a state resident and medical marijuana hasn't been legalized in Indiana.
Second, the amount a person can purchase and use at any time must not exceed eight ounces.
Third, the person must have a certification from a licensed health care provider that shows a diagnosis of one of 21 defined conditions, which include "cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress, stress disorder, muscular dystrophy, a terminal illness, and others."
The executive order came after the Kentucky House passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana twice, but both times it died in the Senate. With the 2023 legislative session coming up, advocates are hoping this will be the year a medical marijuana bill gets through both chambers.
DeeDee Taylor is one of the advocates working on this. She is a member of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee and the owner of 502 Hemp in Louisville.
“I’m actually from Ohio and I have many relatives up there that partake in the medical marijuana program and it has benefitted them tremendously. I see the difference in their lives and I see the difference that I know it can make in the lives here,” she said.
Republican Sen. Stephen West of District 27 is already planning to reintroduce a medical marijuana bill during the upcoming legislative session.
"There's a lot in the bill. It’s a 150-page bill," he said. "But the bottom line is I believe it’s time in Kentucky to have medical marijuana. The positives far outweigh the negatives."
One of the arguments he's anticipating from opponents to legalization is the ongoing medical marijuana studies at the University of Kentucky. The results of these studies won't be available for another year or two.