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Gov. Beshear signs executive order legalizing medical cannabis usage in Ky.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) – Kentucky governor Andy Beshear signed two executive orders on Tuesday that will allow Kentuckians to legally use medical cannabis.

The first executive order allows Kentuckians who meet certain criteria to possess and use small amounts of medical cannabis that was legally purchased in another state to treat specific health conditions beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

“Many have stepped forward to share their stories on how quality of life has improved because of medical cannabis,” Beshear said.

Beshear said there are several conditions that must be met in order to qualify.

  • Cannabis must be lawfully purchased in the United States from a state where the purchase is legal. Customers must keep the receipt.
  • The amount purchased and used must not exceed eight ounces. The amount is the difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony in Kentucky.
  • Each Kentuckian must also have a certification from a licensed health care provider, showing the individual has been diagnosed with at least one of 21 medical conditions. A copy of the certification is required.

“Kentuckians of all ages are suffering from chronic conditions,” Beshear said. “Medical providers are prescribing opioids and painkillers that are not providing relief and Kentuckians are fearful of falling into addiction.”

Beshear said the decision was made as Kentuckians were leaving the state to access medical marijuana, with some not returning.

The executive order lists a number of diagnoses that will qualify for a written certification, including cancer, ALS, epilepsy, intractable seizures, Parkinson’s disease and others.

The second executive order will regulate the sale of Delta 8 in the commonwealth. Delta 8 contains THC, but at a lower level than marijuana.

THC is not a controlled substance in Kentucky nor under federal law, and Beshear said a court has ruled that it is legal in Kentucky.

“Right now, there are no checks on how it is packaged and sold. We must establish a regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth,” Beshear said. “The structure can and will also serve as a template for when the General Assembly fully legalizes medical cannabis. That means we can learn in real-time, train our people and be ready to go.”

Kentucky is one of 37 other states who have allowed cannabis for medical use by qualified individuals. Neighboring states Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia have also legalized medical cannabis.