Kentucky Governor Signs Executive Order Creating New Medical Marijuana Workgroup, While Launching Website On Legalization Implementation

The governor of Kentucky has announced the launch of a new government website for people to track the upcoming implementation of the state’s medical marijuana program, as well as the creation of a workgroup that will study cannabis policy developments in the state and across the country.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D), who signed a medical marijuana legalization bill into law in March, held a press conference on Thursday to give an update on a series of programs and initiatives, including the status of the state’s cannabis-related work.

As prospective medical marijuana patients in the state await the formal launch of the program in 2025, the governor said that people who are interested in the new law can visit to follow along with the implementation process.

The site already contains information that could be relevant to prospective “providers, growers, physicians, [nurse practitioners] and others with an interest in the program,” Beshear said, adding that his administration has also created social media pages that will provide updates on X (formerly Twitter) and LinkedIn.

The governor also announced the formation of a 12-member “Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Workgroup,” which will “study the evolving medical cannabis industry policy and the state of medical cannabis policy in our Commonwealth and around the country.” He signed an executive order on Thursday to establish the body.

“This group will include individuals and state and local government and the private sector with relevant experience in law enforcement, agriculture, health care, workforce and economic development,” he said. “They will be making recommendations to the program and other state agencies that interact with this new law and with Kentuckians to ensure they have safe access to medical cannabis.”

“In the meantime, Kentuckians with qualifying medical conditions can continue to seek relief with medical cannabis by going out of state and following all those conditions that you need to carefully read” in an earlier executive order that he signed late last year.

That order allows patients who meet certain criteria such as a cancer or epilepsy diagnosis to possess up to eight ounces of medical cannabis legally obtained from dispensaries in other states. Another executive order he approved provides for the regulation of the sale of delta-8 THC products.

“All Kentuckians with qualifying medical conditions deserve a chance at a brighter, pain-free future—one where they can get relief without ever turning to opioids,” he said. “We know what those did to our state—what those greedy companies did in creating this epidemic where we are still losing far too many people.”

To that point, a Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission recently met for the second of two public hearings on a plan that would funnel at least $42 million in state funds into ibogaine research over the next six years to explore whether and how ibogaine-assisted therapy can best help treat opioid use disorder.

“But today, we get to take another step towards, again, honoring those veterans with PTSD, where this is their best alternative—those that are suffering the pain of cancer but want to deal with it in a dignified way,” Beshear said on Thursday. “Today, we’re just trying to help our people, and I’m really proud the General Assembly passed this through and now we’re getting [medical cannabis legalization] ready and implemented.”

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Last year, the governor released a report from a medical marijuana advisory committee that he formed, and he said in September that he would be taking their findings into account as he continues to consider executive actions for reform.

The governor also previewed plans to advance the issue of medical marijuana administratively last year, criticizing the Senate for up until that point failing to heed the will of voters and for “obstructing” reform by refusing to even give a hearing to a House-passed bill this year.

Beshear also voiced support for broader marijuana legalization in 2020, saying that it’s “time we joined so many other states in doing the right thing.” He added that Kentucky farmers would be well-positioned to grow and sell cannabis to other states.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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