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The Legal Status of Cannabis in Kentucky

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Kentucky, is among 12 other states that are yet to legalize medical cannabis. Recreational cannabis is illegal in this state. In February this year a medical cannabis bill (HB136) failed to get support from the senate, painting a gloomy picture for cannabis in Kentucky. However, CBD oil that is non-psychoactive is permitted.

Kentucky has a long history with hemp, which is a cannabis plant with very low intoxicating properties. Hemp was first grown for fiber in 1775 in the state of Kentucky near Danville and its cultivation there went on into the 20th century. It is safe to assume that all the hemp grown in the United States originated from seed that was produced in Kentucky.

It is not clear when cannabis first emerged as a popular drug in Kentucky, though there is a mention by The Encyclopedia of Louisville of its popularity as a drug in 1930 in the  Louisville Times. According to this excerpt : “Loco weed cigarettes, manufactured from a plant that has killed millions of animals are being sold to hunters who lack the price of morphine or opium shots. The cigarettes are known chiefly as ‘muggles', ‘bujees', or ‘mariwanas'. Chief buyers are newspaper boys. The fags sell at thirty-five cents a piece or three for a dollar. There are sellers at Eighteenth and Jefferson, Third and Jefferson, and Second and Liberty Streets.

This however did not go down well with the authorities of the day, and cannabis was outlawed for personal use.

Though several Bills in the recent past have been tabled to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the prospects do not seem very promising and cannabis is likely to remain illegal for quite some time.

In the state of Kentucky, possessing marijuana is considered to be a Class B misdemeanor (except that, KRS Chapter 532 to the contrary notwithstanding, the maximum term of incarceration shall be no greater than forty-five (45) days).

Here, whether a person knowingly or unknowingly traffics cannabis they are likely to be found guilty of the offense and the below applies:

It is a Class A misdemeanor to traffic marijuana in quantities less than 8 oz

First offense is also a Class A misdemeanor.

A second or any other offense is categorized as a Class D felony.

Trafficking 8 oz or below 5 lb is considered to be a class D felony in the first offense and Class C felony in second or subsequent felonies.

Trafficking more than 5 lbs of marijuana is considered to be a Class C felony in the first offense and Class B felony for the second and any other subsequent offenses.

The unlawful possessing of marijuana by any person in the quantities of 8 lbs or more “shall be prima facie evidence that the person possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell or transfer it.”

Is medical cannabis legal in Kentucky?

After several failed attempts, House Bill 136 was passed 65 to 30 on February 20, 2020. It was the first time a medical marijuana bill has been taken up by the full House. The bill proposes laid out restrictions on who would be allowed to possess the medical marijuana which would restrict it to prescription by medical professions for qualifying conditions such as cancer and chronic pain. Smoking medical marijuana would however still be prohibited. This bill stalled due to the Covid 19 pandemic and recently seems to have received a lot of push-back indicating that it might not be successful after all.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.