A total of 38 states have passed legislation to legalize and regulate medical marijuana — and Kentucky is the latest.
However, medical marijuana patients in the Bluegrass State won’t be eligible to apply for the program until it goes live in 2025.
If you live in Kentucky and are curious about applying for a medical cannabis card in the future, our guide will cover everything you need to know.
The state of Kentucky legalized medical marijuana on March 31, 2023.
Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s governor, previously issued an executive order in November 2022. The order decriminalized medical marijuana for patients who suffer from certain medical conditions.
Once the new law goes into effect in 2025, Kentucky will officially become the 38th state to offer legal medical cannabis.
Even though Kentucky passed a law to legalize medical cannabis in March 2023, the Kentucky medical marijuana program will not begin until January 2025.
In the meantime, the state is developing how the medical marijuana program will work.
Medical marijuana is still illegal to grow, possess, or distribute at the federal level, but states can still pass laws to legalize marijuana access within state lines.
Most states have different rules for what they allow, and don’t allow, when it comes to medical and recreational cannabis.
It’s important to keep informed about any changes to your state and local marijuana laws. Possessing marijuana while traveling to a state where cannabis is not legal can result in fines, arrests, or jail time.
Kentucky’s new law only authorizes access to medical marijuana.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal under current Kentucky law.
Since there is no indication that recreational marijuana will become legal in Kentucky anytime soon, it’s important to understand the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.
Recreational marijuana is marijuana produced and sold for non-medical consumption. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, the law usually allows any adult (21 or older) to purchase a limited quantity of marijuana from a licensed cannabis dispensary.
Medical marijuana access tends to be more restrictive. That’s because medical marijuana products are usually more potent, since their purpose is to give relief to patients who have chronic pain.
Medical marijuana has been decriminalized in Kentucky, but is not legal to sell until the new law goes into effect on January 1, 2025.
When Kentucky’s new medical marijuana law goes into effect, eligible patients with a qualifying medical condition can purchase medicinal-quality cannabis to treat their symptoms.
Most medical marijuana programs require a patient to be diagnosed with a qualifying health condition.
Kentucky is no different. Under Governor Beshear’s 2022 executive order, which is active until the new law goes into effect in 2025, the state allows patients with the below health conditions to use medical marijuana without criminal penalties:
This list may change in 2025 when the new medical marijuana regulations go into effect.
The new law, also known as Senate Bill 47 (SB 47), will allow patients with the following medical conditions to enroll in the Kentucky medical marijuana program.
If a patient does not have one of the above conditions but their physician believes they could still benefit from medical marijuana, there is still hope.
That’s because the Kentucky Center for Cannabis Research will have the authority to review a patient’s medical history to decide if their condition could benefit from medical marijuana.
In order to legally purchase and bring home medical marijuana from other states before 2025, Kentucky patients must obtain a written certification from their physician.
They must also keep receipts for any marijuana they purchase.
Patients will still need to obtain a certification from their doctor when the new medical marijuana program rolls out in 2025. They will also need to obtain a new certification from their doctor every 60 days.
You Might Like: Can I Use Marijuana Instead of Antidepressants?
Although Kentucky shares a border with several states, not all of those states have medical marijuana programs that allow out-of-state residents to make purchases.
Below is a brief overview of where Kentucky residents can travel to purchase medical cannabis.
Kentucky borders seven other states. All of them, with the exception of Tennessee and Indiana, have medical marijuana programs.
Unfortunately, not all of those programs let out-of-state patients buy medical marijuana from their dispensaries — also known as reciprocity.
Michigan is the closest state to Kentucky that offers medical cannabis reciprocity.
Michigan’s medical marijuana dispensaries can sell marijuana products to a qualifying patient who is visiting from out of state, as long as they meet the following conditions:
Although patients can’t apply for an official Kentucky marijuana card until the state’s program goes live in 2025, they can still present a copy of their doctor’s medical marijuana certification when making a purchase from a Michigan dispensary.
By law, Illinois’ medical marijuana program does not accept out-of-state MMJ cards.
The good news is that recreational marijuana is legal in Illinois. You don’t have to be an Illinois resident to purchase recreational marijuana from one of the state’s dispensaries.
The downside is that Illinois’ rules limit out-of-state residents to recreational-quality cannabis only, which is less potent (and more expensive) than medical marijuana. Also, out-of-state shoppers can only buy half of what an Illinois resident is legally allowed to purchase.
As long as a Kentucky resident has a valid medical certification for medical marijuana from their doctor, they are not subject to fines or criminal punishment for transporting the marijuana they buy in Illinois back to Kentucky.
Nevertheless, Kentuckians should be aware that marijuana’s illegal status at the federal level means there is always a risk involved when transporting marijuana across state lines.
Other states that border Kentucky and have medical marijuana programs are Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois, and Missouri.
None of the above states currently allow non-residents to purchase medical marijuana through their programs.
Even if you travel to one of these states with a copy of your medical certification from a Kentucky medical marijuana doctor, you will not be allowed to buy medical marijuana from their dispensaries.
Whether you’re searching for a doctor who can evaluate you for medical marijuana, or you’re seeking a convenient and local marijuana dispensary, the resources at Marijuana Doctors can help you find what you need.
Their easy-to-use directory can connect you with the best local doctors who are experienced and knowledgeable about medical marijuana treatment plans. You can read reviews from other patients, book appointments, search dispensary locations, and read the latest news and updates concerning medical marijuana legislation.
At this time, Kentucky’s medical marijuana program is still in development. Patients won’t be able to apply until the program goes live on January 1, 2025.
The new law states that in order for a patient to enroll in the program, they must have:
Qualifying health conditions for Kentucky’s medical marijuana program, which is set to begin in 2025, include:
Here’s what else patients can expect in 2025 when they can apply for a Kentucky Medical Marijuana Card:
The state is still determining what, if any, fees they will require for patient registrations and physician licensing related to medical marijuana.
Kentucky’s medical marijuana program, which is scheduled to begin in 2025, will require medical practitioners to get permission from the Kentucky State Board of Medical Licensure or the Kentucky Board of Nursing before they can recommend medical marijuana to their patients.
The licensing boards will also determine whether authorized medical marijuana doctors must meet certain continuing medical education requirements.
Healthcare providers must recertify their medical marijuana patients every 60 days. Although the first doctor’s visit must be in person, the patient can attend a telemedicine or virtual appointment for their 60-day recertification.
If you need to find a medical marijuana physician in Kentucky, try searching the database at Marijuana Doctors. Their extensive directory of experienced cannabis physicians can help you find the right match.
Kentucky won’t launch its medical marijuana program until January 1, 2025. Although the new program will not allow patients to use smokable marijuana or grow cannabis at home, the state’s decision to legalize medical marijuana is a giant step in the right direction.
In the meantime, Kentucky patients with a qualifying health condition still have options if they’re able and willing to travel to other states. Visit the Marijuana Doctors website to find a licensed medical marijuana dispensary near you.