FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced Thursday the timeline for Kentuckians’ access to medical marijuana has been shortened considerably.

Beshear signed House Bill 829 on Thursday afternoon, which moves up the time when businesses can receive licensing for the sale of medical marijuana from Jan. 1, 2025 to July 2024.

“This administration has been working to expedite the timeline for making medical cannabis available,” said Beshear. “We worked with the General Assembly on a solution and by signing House Bill 829, I am pleased to report that my administration will now be able to issue licenses to medical cannabis businesses in 2024 instead of 2025.”

As a result, Beshear said the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program has filed new regulations that provide guidelines for how businesses in Kentucky can become licensed medical cannabis businesses.

The new regulations state business owners can begin applying for those licenses starting July 1. The application process is open through August 31.

Businesses will have to pay an application fee and submit documentation, including a business history, operation plans, ownership information, financial information, business location and site plans.

From there, applications will be approved through a lottery.

“The program is also focused on ensuring cannabis business licensing is fair and transparent,” said Sam Flynn, executive director of the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program. “To do so, the program has partnered with the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to issue medical cannabis business licenses using a lottery system. Other states have also adopted this approach.”

Flynn said the state’s first license lottery will be held in October. Across all of Kentucky, the state will issue 10 licenses for cannabis processors and 48 licenses will be available for dispensaries.

Those licenses will be issued in 11 regions across the Commonwealth; each region will initially be granted at least four dispensary licenses. However, no more than one dispensary can be located in each county — the only exception to this rule being Kentucky’s two largest counties, Jefferson and Fayette.

“We are excited that the program will be able to issue licenses in 2024 rather than 2025,” said Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “From its inception, the program has been focused on ensuring patients with serious medical conditions like cancer, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and other symptoms and conditions have safe access to medical cannabis.”

Kentucky lawmakers passed the measure to legalize access to medical cannabis for people suffering from a defined list of debilitating illnesses in March of 2023. Since then, lawmakers also passed a regulatory follow-up on April 15, before Beshear signed HB-829.

Beshear previously urged lawmakers to broaden access to medical marijuana and adjust the regulations to include a longer list of severe health conditions. However, HB-829 did not expand that list.

Conditions eligible for medical cannabis when the program starts include cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“}]] Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced Thursday the timeline for Kentuckians’ access to medical marijuana has been shortened considerably.  Read More