Kentucky sets launch date for medical marijuana sales

The state’s oversight agency is still finalizing many rules about the market.

The medical marijuana trade in Kentucky will officially launch on New Year’s Day of 2025.

But before then, there’s still a lot that the state needs to sort out, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

Although an initial set of industry regulations was released in January, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services must still put finishing touches on industry regulations, which are still in the works and may not be done for several more months, an agency spokesman told the Courier Journal.

“In the coming weeks and months, the Cabinet will promulgate additional regulations on how patients and caregivers can become cardholders and how individuals and businesses can apply for a medical cannabis business license,” the spokesperson said.

For instance, it’s not yet clear if the state will cap the number of MMJ businesses allowed to operate. The law which created the program doesn’t have a limit on dispensaries, growers, or other business types.

The state legislature also needs to approve the rules, and a public comment period is on the calendar for March 25.

Of the rules issued to date, those of primary importance include:

All medical marijuana cultivation must be done indoors.
Packaging and labeling standards will be strict, in part to discern MMJ from hemp-based goods.
Only those 21 and over can buy MMJ products without supervision by a parent, including vaping devices; parents will be allowed to purchase MMJ on behalf of their children.
Dispensaries will be barred from selling smoking accessories, such as rolling papers, lighters, or anything else that facilitates smoking cannabis.
Dispensaries will be allowed to sell raw marijuana flower, but the law requires it be only used to make edibles or tea at home, and smoking MMJ is technically prohibited.

Separately, an effort is underway at the Kentucky Legislature to broaden the number of qualifying medical conditions that will make consumers eligible to legally purchase medical cannabis, a move that already has the support of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

Senate Bill 337, authored by Sen. Stephen West, would increase the number of medical ailments to 21 from just six in the current law, Louisville Public Media reported. Currently, only those with cancer, severe pain, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis or muscle spasms, chronic nausea or post-traumatic stress disorder are eligible for the MMJ program.

West wants to add to that list:

HIV and AIDS
ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease
Arthritis
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Fibromyalgia
Glaucoma
Hepatitis C
Huntington’s disease
Irritable bowel syndrome, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Muscular dystrophy
Neuropathies
Parkinson’s disease
Sickle cell disease
Any terminal illness

If West’s new bill is successful, the number of Kentucky residents eligible to purchase MMJ would be roughly 437,000, Beshear estimated at a press conference in January.

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