Beshear signs executive order allowing some Kentuckians to use medical cannabis
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Supporters of medical cannabis say, Tuesday was a win after Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order allowing patients who meet certain requirements, to possess the drug.
Starting next year, Kentuckians with certain severe medical conditions and who meet specific requirements will be able to possess and use small amounts of legally purchased medical cannabis to treat their medical conditions.
In the executive order, the Governor outlined conditions that Kentuckians with at least one of 21 medical conditions, which include cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular dystrophy or a terminal illness, must meet to access medical cannabis beginning January 1, 2023.
These conditions include:
- Cannabis must be bought in the United States of America in a state where the purchase is legal and regulated. Kentuckians will need to keep their receipt.
- The amount a person can purchase and possess at any one time must not exceed 8 ounces, which is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Kentucky.
- Each Kentuckian must also have a certification from a licensed health care provider that shows that the individual has been diagnosed with at least one of 21 medical conditions. A copy of the certification must be retained.
The Governor said that guidance is being created for law enforcement to determine quickly and accurately who does and does not qualify.
The action comes after months of debate and failed legislation from the general assembly, earlier this year.
“It is clear that Kentuckians want medical cannabis,” Governor Beshear said.
Signing an executive order, Tuesday, that loosens restrictions on medical cannabis in Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear says it is past time lawmakers make it a law.
“Today’s action means Kentuckians suffering from these chronic and terminal conditions will soon be able to get the help they need without fear of being charged with a misdemeanor.” Governor Beshear said.
“It’s very exciting,” Kentucky resident, Julie Cantwell. “It makes me very happy that he won’t have to be a criminal to not have seizures.”
Cantwell has been a longtime advocate for her son and others who suffer from chronic conditions. Every two months, they drive to Michigan so her son can get treatment to help him. She served on an advisory panel, that toured Kentucky this summer, to answer questions and hear from others.
The order permits Kentuckians with certain severe medical conditions such as cancer, MS, PTSD or terminal illnesses to possess up to eight ounces of medical cannabis legally bought in another state.
“These are actions that I can take as governor to provide access to medical cannabis and relief who need it, to better enjoy their life without pain,” Governor Beshear said.
“This is more than any governor has done and this is a step to help Kentucky patients,” Cantwell said. “I’m going to say there might even be a million or more people in this state that are suffering and need help.”
Beshear says current treatments often include highly addictive opioids, an epidemic that has plagued Kentucky, where more than 2100 Kentuckians died from overdoses last year.
“A recent study showed a 64% reduction in opioid use among chronic pain patients who use medical cannabis. Yet for years, including this last legislative session, medical cannabis has failed to pass, even as nearly 90% of Kentuckians now favor it,” Governor Beshear said.
He added that the executive actions are not a substitute for legislation to fully legalize medical cannabis. The Governor stated that he will work with lawmakers this upcoming session to push for full legalization of medical cannabis once again.
The Governor also announced that the state will regulate the sale of Delta 8. Delta 8 contains THC, but at a lower level than marijuana. It is not a controlled substance in Kentucky nor under federal law, and a court has ruled that it is legal in Kentucky.
“Right now, there are no checks on how it is packaged and sold. We must establish a regulatory structure to ensure that Delta 8 is sold and purchased safely in the commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “The structure can and will also serve as a template for when the General Assembly fully legalizes medical cannabis. That means we can learn in real-time, train our people and be ready to go.”
The order goes into effect until January 1. two days before lawmakers return to Frankfort.
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