Client Alerts
April 29, 2024

Governor Beshear Signs Measure to Begin Medical Cannabis Licensing Six Months Ahead of Schedule

Stites & Harbison Client Alert, April 29, 2024

On April 17, 2024, Governor Andy Beshear signed House Bill 829 (“HB 829”) into law amending aspects of the Commonwealth’s budding Medical Cannabis Program (“Program”). Among other provisions, HB 829 expedites the licensing process for medical cannabis businesses. As initially passed last year, the law delayed regulators from licensing cannabis providers until January 1, 2025. Under the newly signed law, applicants can begin the process of applying for licensure as early as July 1, 2024.

The following day, on April 18, 2024, the Program filed two emergency regulations, 915 KAR 1.010E and 915 KAR 1.020E, with accompanying identical ordinary regulations, 915 KAR 1.010 and 915 KAR 1.020. These regulations outline how proposed cannabis businesses can apply to become licensed in the Commonwealth and the requirements following licensure. The emergency regulations take effect immediately and allow businesses to apply for the initial allotment of cannabis business licenses.

Under the recently filed rules, the application portal for the initial allocation of medical cannabis business licenses will open on July 1 and will close on August 31. The Program will issue a limited number of licenses for cultivators, processors, and dispensers with no initial limit of the number of licensed safety compliance facilities. A cultivator license authorizes its holder to grow and sell medical cannabis (also known as raw plant material) to a licensed medical cannabis processor or dispensary in Kentucky. A processor license authorizes its holder to process raw plant material through extraction and other processing methods to develop medical cannabis products on its licensed premises in Kentucky. A dispensary license authorizes its holder to sell medical cannabis products from its licensed premises to registered qualified patients, designated caregivers, and visiting qualified patients. Safety compliance facilities verify that the medical cannabis products intended for sale in Kentucky are safe for use through testing. If the number of eligible applicants for licenses exceeds the initial allocation of licenses, the Program will hold a lottery in October to select the recipients of the initial licenses.

HB 829 and the accompanying emergency regulations allow medical cannabis businesses to begin to apply for and receive the required licenses to establish their facilities in the Commonwealth so that patients will have access to medical cannabis products on January 1, 2025. Written comments are being accepted on the emergency regulations until June 30, 2024, and on the ordinary administrative regulations until July 31, 2024. Cannabis consumption outside of the medical cannabis program remains illegal in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

If you are interested in applying for a Medical Cannabis Business License in Kentucky or have other questions about Kentucky’s Medical Cannabis Program, please contact Jennifer Cave.

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