Will Kentucky (Finally) Legalize Cannabis?

kentucky cannabis laws

Both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Kentucky but times may be changing for this southern state. In early 2020, House Bill 136 passed 65 to 30; this bill marked the first occasion in which a medical marijuana bill had been taken up by the full House. Proposed in the Kentucky cannabis laws bill were medical marijuana user restrictions, as well as use location prohibitions and a ban on consuming medical marijuana via smoking. HB 136 then stalled in the Senate due to the pandemic, however, sponsoring Representative, Rep. Jason Nemes has stated he will re-submit the Bill for the 2021 General Assembly.

Recreational Cannabis Possibilities

A second bill, House Bill 461, called the Responsible Cannabis Use Bill, has been filed in order to create new tax revenues through cannabis, as well as help alleviate the pains of chronic illness sufferers and allow criminal record expungement for those convicted of misdemeanor marijuana charges. Additionally, the measure would allow home cultivation of up to five mature and five immature plants for those in possession of a home grower’s permit costing $250. Under the proposal, 25% of cannabis-derived revenues would be used for addiction treatment and for social equity programs. The remainder would be deposited into the state’s general fund.


Vice President for Policy at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Allison Adams, recently said the organization is neutral regarding cannabis legislation but wants to keep the public informed of potential unintended consequences. “We at the foundation just want to make sure it’s done right if it is passed,” Adams said. “We want to make sure that packaging or the way that it’s sold protects against accidental ingestion for our youth. We want to make sure that marketing and advertising protect against youth initiation.” Right now, both bills are expected to be discussed during the remainder of 2021’s legislative session. But both bills still have a long way to go as they will need to pass both the house and senate. Further proposals include House Concurrent Resolution 5, introduced January 2021, which urges federal policymakers to expedite research regarding the safety and efficacy of the use of marijuana for medical purposes.


Cannabis Production in Kentucky

Although Kentucky cannabis laws are currently opposed, the Bluegrass State is actually the United States’ third-largest producer of marijuana. This is partially due to the abundance of dense forestland, including The Daniel Boone National Forest of over 600,000 acres. In 2003, marijuana plants numbering 206,908 were discovered and destroyed here. Although previous cannabis legislation has been introduced, such as the Kentucky Cannabis Freedom Act in 2016, they failed to gain momentum.


Kentucky’s connections to politics and cannabis were in the news recently when State Representative John Yarmuth, who serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee, purchased stocks in Canopy Growth Corporation, Aurora Cannabis and Tilray. Prior to the stock trades, Yarmuth had signed on in September as a co-sponsor to H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which decriminalized cannabis. The legislation passed the House on December 4th. A representative for Yarmuth said the Kentucky Democrat followed all House rules, noting the stock trades came after he signed on as a co-sponsor. “Congressman Yarmuth purchased the stocks after seeing four states legalize the use of recreational marijuana in the November elections. He was transparent about it and followed all House Ethics and financial disclosure rules,” he wrote in an email to the Washington Examiner.


Other Kentucky industries are involved in the cannabis realm: investigators from Harvard Medical School and the University of Kentucky have assessed the relationship between the enactment of medical-use and adult-use legalization laws and opioid prescriptions for adults (ages 18 to 64) enrolled in employee-sponsored health insurance programs. The authors reported, “[T]he implementation of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) reduced morphine milligram equivalents per enrollee by seven percent and 13 percent, respectively.” Medical cannabis access was predominantly associated with reductions in older enrollees (those ages 55 to 64), while adult-use access was predominantly associated with reductions among younger and middle-aged enrollees (those ages 35 to 54). Those who reported being in close proximity to retail marijuana sales experienced the greatest percentage decrease in opioid prescription dosages. Researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that both MMLs and RMLs have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing in the privately insured population, especially for the middle-aged population.” The findings of the study are similar to several others.

Interested in staying abreast on Kentucky’s journey to legalization? Follow CannaCon on social media and attend the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference. Our goal is to grow the cannabis industry by educating cannabis business owners on all things related to cannabis and CBD. Our trade shows, like the one in Oklahoma City May 27-28, feature exhibitors from around the country as well as seminars delivered by industry experts.


  1. Terri Abney on July 1, 2021 at 11:55 am

    If legalizing marijuana will help in decreasing opioids being prescribed an that will help with the opioid epidemic as well then I don’t see the problem… Seem like you would want to help prevent all these opioid overdoses… It seems simple to me…

    • Bill Siddons on February 17, 2022 at 8:33 am

      I agree 100% I used it due to my 6 back surgeries. I used to be so messed up on opioid’s. Then I went back to pot and have been off pain meds for 8 years. Thank the lord for pot

  2. Yvonne on July 10, 2021 at 11:43 am

    The should legalize Cannabis everywhere 🙂

  3. Richard Gianzero on July 14, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Having lived in Colorado when medical and the recreational marijuana became state legal I have only one piece of advice for Kentucky legislators, don’t start taxing marijuana to increase state social programs. This will lead to infighting and would not be beneficial to the state. Yes social programs can be great but don’t get ahead of yourselves.

  4. Matthew Bloom on July 18, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    I live in az and have been looking to move back east somewhere, and was looking at TN, ark, ky, ok, or Missouri. Not many states back in the southeast have medical marijuana though. I was going to transplant my family and my business to another state but so many people back there have closed minds about medical marijuana because of the stigmata from our older people. Marijuana is a gateway drug! Nope! Cigarettes and all these opioids, and heroin, etc are gateway drugs. There have been actual tests on marijuana, and they’ve actually found A lot of good uses for it. I’ve had seizures and several brain surgeries and it’s helped me tremendously! You need smokable marijuana though for the times you need a quick dose, because edibles or pills take at least 20 mins to get into your system and people with head trauma need it quickly for migraines,etc. Most of the time edibles between 10 – 50 mgwork if you take them ahead of time. I agree with no driving while high, however you need to have tests that will register how much people have in their systems. Alcohol, has been a very Bad drug in the past but we still have that. There have been many things in the past that have been so taboo, it’s rediculous! People tell their kids, don’t do drugs,but then tell their kids, here take this pill. It came from a Dr and pharmacy so you can trust it. It’s safe! That’s farthest from the truth. My mother died from complications to opioids prescribed by her Dr. Because drs get kick backs from pharma companies to prescribe certain drugs to people. I’m a Christian, and believe God gave us a number of things that are natural to help people with and we’re just getting through the surface of them. The opioids my mother were taking became extremely addictive with my mom, so she wanted them all the time, she took them so long 5-7 years, then her kidneys, liver, lungs etc began shutting down, then she passed, the whole time telling us, my Dr wouldn’t give them to me if they weren’t safe. I’ve had morphine and that’s pretty addicting to, but got off of it with marijuana. I’ve ingested marijuana off and on since I was 14 and have never gotten addicted to it. I’ve quit, and gone back after I needed it for migraines, brain surgeries, etc. It does help but sometimes 5-10 mg just don’t cut it. Cbd oil is good but sometimes you just need a little more, plus the revenue will help the state, and like our state, we have a portion that helps with addicts, which are mostly from opioids, meth, and all the man made garbage. Well ty for listening. I just wanted to move back east somewhere and was thinking of opening a business, and I was really wanting to move to Kentucky or Tenn. However I guess I’ll have to settle for Arkansas, Missouri, or ok. If parents etc were more honest with their kids, this earth would be much better. Don’t do drugs. So no aspirin, Tylenol, diet drugs etc,? I agree, we need to stay away from most of the man made garbage. Meth, heroin,and several others are bad for the mind and body, but marijuana is not one of them. People don’t od on marijuana. They just get thirsty, hungry, and sleepy if they’ve done to much. The main thing that people don’t get is that you need to drink plenty of fluids. If you don’t you feel a bit strange. I just wish people would be more honest with themselves and their kids instead of making certain things so terribly bad, and making others good because a pharma company made it, and some of those are the worst!

  5. James Harvey on August 6, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    I would say it would help KY more then ever it would lower the drugs use in Ky so i wouldsay yes to Smokeing weed

  6. Calvin melton on August 12, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    Every other state has made it legal , and it has generated more tax revenues and more money to fix infersture , roads, bridges, city’s , high tech in schools , and a real huge tax base, Kentucky needs to make it all legal all across the board.. other states have made and generated billions of dollars for their state , and Kentucky if it’s not all legal then we’re falling behind as a poor state.. alcohol is a lot more dangerous and so are cigarettes both of those has kill alot of people smoking weed does not cause cancer, alcohol and cigarettes cause cancer weed or the other hand make a person in a relaxed state and reduces pain….

  7. Willis Jones on September 16, 2021 at 8:39 am

    I wish they would legalize pot cuz they took all the pain meds and everything else all that’s left is alcohol and I drank enough of that shit when I was younger and can’t stand the smell of it

  8. Linn Pierce on October 7, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    I am very tired of Mitch McConnell’s interference in even MEDICAL marijuana progress. He continues to reap the benefits of big pharma, while “his” state continues to escalate in the use of methamphetamine, when legal pain relief is pulled from people who have become addicted to Mitch’s buddies products. I live in a small town, with a weekly newspaper that barely has two sections. The “police beat” section is filled with so many methamphetamine arrests that last week it was almost and entire page. I know that the implementation of medical marijuana in Kentucky, would help many people overcome their addiction, and manage pain in a more natural way.

  9. Vera Bradley on October 13, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    I am in horrible pain from a pinched nerve in my neck and back. I have had epidural shots as much as I can. I cannot take prescription pain pills as they effect my nervous system. Please, please pas s it in Kentucky!! I can go to Cincinnati and get it but can’t legally use it in Ky.

    • JJ on November 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      I mean…. you get to do whatever you need to do for your body. YOUR BODY. Just saying.

    • Deb bowen on December 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      I agreee with you ……I would be in a nursing home if it wasnt for cannabis edibles…. I found a gummy that did wonders that no pharma med could even hold a candle to, but i cant get anymore because they arent available…..im just sick to death that this could be the one thing to keep me moving toward good health and its not even available to me.

  10. Katie on November 17, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Until you deal with ra spinal stenios, lupus muscle seizures never damage you just dont know the pain I suffer. I’m on SSI I feel I’m being punished for my pain. and after takeing pain med over 20 yrs within relief and shots that made pain worst and knowing marijuana helps so much and no one cares they’d take away you income before allowing you the pain relief. It’s all you can to to want to live some days . Unless you di it illegal and that’s not right I’m a honest care person I should be allowed relief from pain. Lived lived 61 yrs 30 in pain make in legal

  11. Wills Jones on December 7, 2021 at 7:33 am

    I’m with you I had a desire and broke my back in three diff places if I have to do something illegal I just as well do without cause it really screws with your nerves

  12. Chris Baker on January 7, 2022 at 11:11 am

    One human has no right to tell any other human not to use a plant, for personal use, that grows on this planet.

  13. brain on January 19, 2022 at 7:38 am

    just legalizing medical won’t cut it in ky…they are about to legalize recreationally in ohio soon so at least 30% of kentuckians or more will be moving to ohio,all because the guy trying to stop recreational marijuana owns a bourbon company,he wants our state to have a bunch of drunk drivers on the roads before legalizing something that actually helps people in many areas,look at how much money kentucky loses each year that it is not legalized recreationally….cigarettes and alcohol legal but not marijuana? makes no sense at all, kentucky will just lose billions in revenue on marijuana taxes and i’m willing to bet over 30% of kentuckians will move to ohio when they legalize recreationally there…kentucky voters are dumbed down allowing mitch Mcconell to hurt kentucky just so mitch get’s them fat checks from pharamacy companies, i mean medical marijauana is not enough, kentucky you want to make millions or billions in tax money? you want to stay current and compete with other states? then youm ust go full recreational or just live under a rock and lose money and citizens

  14. E. Carroll on May 13, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    Our Governor needs to go ahead and use an executive order and pass both medical, and recreational its going to save lives. Look at all the overdoses from opiates, especially since phentanol epidemic, yes its coming from China who are trying to kill as many Americans as they can. I’m a disabled coal miner from E. Ky. 5 discs ruptured, three in my neck. With permanent nerve damage. The neuropathy in both of my feet are unbearable most of the time. I have a spinal cord stimulator implanted in my back, without this device I wouldn’t be able to walk or function. I need medical marijuana , and it works better for pain, especially certain strains Sativa mostly. When your body gets use to opiates, ie tolerance. You have to take more pills which are very hard on your kidney’s, liver, pancreas etc. Our Kentucky government needs to listen to the people; not big pharma, who are giving doctors, and our leaders like Mitch McConnell big kickbacks! Let the people vote on these important issues . Its passed in the house, but the gov. USED the China virus to stall the inevitable. Andy ( Governor) needs to stop and use his Executive order to help people now!!!!!

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