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Recreational marijuana is illegal in Kentucky, though Jefferson County, which is home to Louisville, has decriminalized the possession of up to 1 oz. Throughout the rest of the state, possession of less than 8 oz of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 45 days of incarceration and a maximum fine of $250. In November 2022, Governor Andy Beshar signed an executive order that will go into effect on January 1, 2023, allowing some patients to possess up to 8 oz of cannabis obtained legally from dispensaries from out of the state. Patients must be diagnosed with one of the following 21 conditions:

  • Cancer

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

  • Epilepsy

  • Intractable seizures

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Crohn's disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Sickle cell anemia

  • Severe and chronic pain

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

  • Cachexia

  • Neuropathies

  • Severe arthritis

  • Hepatitis C

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Intractable pain

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Huntington's disease


  • Glaucoma

  • Terminal illness

Possession of 8 oz or more of marijuana is considered proof of intent to sell or distribute, which is a felony. First-time offenders found cultivating less than 5 marijuana plants face misdemeanor charges and a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and imprisonment of up to 1 year. A subsequent offense involving less than 5 plants is a felony punishable by 1-5 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. Cultivation of more than 5 plants is a felony. The punishment for first-time offenders is 1-5 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. For second-time offenders, the maximum fine is $10,000 and the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years.

Kentucky does not currently have a medical marijuana program, but under the Clara Madeline Gillam Act individuals participating in a clinical trial or expanded access program through a hospital or associated clinic affiliated with a public university in Kentucky that has a college or school of medicine may be granted access to cannabis preparations that are high in CBD and extremely low in THC. These preparations may be provided by physicians practicing through one of these hospitals or associated clinics. The act does not specify how these preparations are distinct from CBD-rich formulations that are hemp-derived and contain less than 0.3% THC. 

In March 2023, Gov. Beshar signed a bill (SB 47) that allowing the creation of a medical marijuana program. Regulations will be finalized by January 1, 2024. Some of the features of the program will be a 35% THC cap on flower marijuana and a 70% THC cap on concentrates, a restriction on possession of only up to a 10-day supply on one's person and a 30-day supply in one's residence, a ban on home cultivation, and a ban on smoking cannabis (raw cannabis will be allowed for vaporization). As of April 2023, patients with recommendations from doctors or advanced nurse practitioners will qualify for participation in the program if they have the following conditions: cancer, severe pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms or spasticity, chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any other medical condition or disease which the Kentucky Center for Cannabis deems appropriate.  

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