Kentucky Makes History Passing Legislation Legalizing Medical Cannabis

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Senate Bill 47, legalizing medical cannabis, was signed into law in March 2023 by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D).

Near the end of March 2023, Kentuckians calls were answered. Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, met with lawmakers and advocates to sign Senate Bill 47. This historic legislation legalizes medical cannabis in the Commonwealth.

“In November, I signed an executive order to help Kentuckians with certain medical conditions, like our veterans suffering from PTSD, find safe and effective relief through medical cannabis,” Gov. Beshear said (1). “Now, I am finally able to sign this legislation into law and fully legalize medical cannabis — something the majority of Kentuckians support.”

This new bill creates a structure to regulate the medical cannabis program. It includes cultivators, processors, dispensaries, practitioners, products, and issuing identification cards to patients and caregivers. Another important section in the legislation is that it forms an authorization framework for practitioners to be able to recommend the use of medical cannabis and also establishes the cannabis business license application process and requirements.


“I am very happy to be here with friends to celebrate this special day. The signing of SB 47 comes after about five years of hard-fought legislative efforts,” bill sponsor Sen. Stephen West of Paris commented (1). “This bill is how the legislative process should work. 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. I am proud to be a part of that effort.”

“It is a true honor to be here today to celebrate this momentous legislation. For far too long, we have had to depend on the pharmaceutical companies pushing substances that have been a bane to rural Kentucky. I come from Eastern Kentucky, and I have seen firsthand the devastation that opioids have brought on my region,” said Sen. Phillip Wheeler of Pikeville (1). “I came here late to the issue, but I am glad I jumped on board and was able to play a small part in getting it over the finish line.”

“This is how it is supposed to be done. I am filled with emotion. There are thousands and thousands of Kentuckians who just want to be and want to feel better. This will help them with that,” Rep. Jason Nemes of Louisville stated (1). “This is such a good bill because there will be tens of thousands of Kentuckians who will never know our names, who have never walked these halls, but will be helped. I am happy to have played a small part in that.”

Senate Bill 47 assists Governor Beshear in his goal to fight the addiction of opioids and offer Kentucky citizens suffering from severe medical conditions such as, chronic pain, a safer option to treat their health conditions. The bill does not take effect until January 1, 2025, but, the Governor’s executive order will remain in effect, which allows individuals with certain health conditions, the option to receive medical cannabis from out of state until the new law is officially enacted.

Cannabis will be available to patients who receive a physician’s recommendation for one of the following conditions (2):

  • Any type of cancer
  • Chronic, severe, intractable, or debilitating pain
  • Epilepsy or any other seizure disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms, or spasticity
  • Chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)