Kentucky Becomes 38th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is now legal in Kentucky, thanks to the late March passage of a legalization bill by state legislators and the signing of the bill the next day by Gov. Andy Beshear. The Democrat praised lawmakers for their decision and said that legal cannabis is something the majority of Kentuckians wanted.

It’s now easier to count the states that do not have a legal medical marijuana program than those that do. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, three states have no public laws allowing access to cannabis: Idaho, Kansas and Nebraska.

In addition, nine states allow access only to CBD products or products with very low THC amounts. They are Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

What The Kentucky Law Allows

Medical marijuana in Kentucky comes with many restrictions. Chief among them is that patients cannot smoke cannabis. Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, a strong advocate for medical marijuana legalization, said the new law is not a gateway to allowing recreational cannabis in the Bluegrass State.

“This is not a ‘wink, wink, nod, nod,’ medical program,” Nemes said, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. “This is a medical program. I’m against recreational, and so if you smoke this, you’re violating the law, you’re gonna lose your card and you’re going to jail.”

As with all states, Kentucky lawmakers also listed the medical conditions that medical marijuana can treat. Those qualifying medical conditions in Kentucky include:

  • Any type of cancer
  • Pain that is “chronic, severe, intractable or debilitating”
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms or spasticity
  • Chronic nausea or cyclical vomiting syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

That last item may come as especially beneficial to war veterans who live in Kentucky. Veterans have long called for more exploration and research into the potential for medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of PTSD, which many veterans suffer from after returning home.

Under the new law, medical marijuana sales cannot begin in Kentucky until 2025.

Texas Could Expand Medical Marijuana Program This Year

In addition to the change in Kentucky, it’s possible that Texas, the second largest state in the country after California, could expand access to medical marijuana this year. The Texas House of Representatives is considering a change in state law that would allow those with chronic pain issues access to medical cannabis.

Texas lawmakers also are considering allowing higher levels of THC in medical marijuana products used in the state.

The state’s medical marijuana program, called the Texas Compassionate Use Program, currently allows doctors to prescribe low-THC products to patients with qualifying conditions. Those include people with cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and autism.

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