is weed legal in kentucky

Is Weed Legal In Kentucky: Full Guide

Table of Contents

Known as the Bluegrass State, Kentucky is famous for its horse racing, bourbon distilleries, and Mammoth Cave National Park, the world’s longest-known cave system. Another notable landmark is the Kentucky Derby, a famous horse race held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Kentucky has a rich history, playing a significant role in the Civil War and serving as a border state between the Union and the Confederacy. In terms of cannabis laws, Kentucky has historically had strict regulations, although there has been recent progress toward legalization for medical purposes. Here’s everything you need to know before you toke up. 

Is Weed Legal in Kentucky? Straight to the point.

  • Recreational THC: No
  • Medical THC: Yes
  • CBD: Yes
  • Delta-8: Yes

Medical Weed Laws

On March 31, 2023, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed medical cannabis legislation into law, making Kentucky the 38th state in the US to have a comprehensive medical cannabis law. The Kentucky House of Representatives had passed the bill, SB 47, on March 30, 2023, with a 66-33 vote, while the Senate had approved the bill earlier in March, with a 26-11 vote. In November 2022, Gov. Beshear had signed Executive Order #2022-798, providing some protections for medical patients who bought cannabis where it is legal.

The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2025, and regulations are due by July 1, 2024. However, SB 47 does not allow the smoking of raw cannabis; only raw cannabis for vaporization is permitted. Patients under the age of 18 will require a parent or guardian to register as their caregiver, but there is no age requirement for medical cannabis use. The maximum amount that a person can purchase and possess at any one time is 8 ounces.

To qualify for medical cannabis, an individual or caregiver must present a written certification from a qualifying healthcare provider, such as the person’s primary care physician, indicating a diagnosis of cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, or one of the 16 other medical conditions listed in the executive order.

While the final legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky remains uncertain, some conditions that commonly qualify for medical cannabis treatment include but are not limited to:

  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neurological disease or disorder (including epilepsy)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Autism
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Cachexia (wasting syndrome)severe or persistent nausea
  • Terminal illness
  • A condition causing severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • A condition for which opiates could be prescribed.

There are sure to be adaptations and changes as Kentucky works to firm up their medical cannabis program. 

Recreational Weed Laws

Trends show that many states with medical marijuana programs usually move towards adult-use recreational legalization. However, recreational weed’s regulatory environment tends to be far more complex. Although many states maintain their medical programs to support patients, the same rules do not apply to the general public once recreational marijuana is legalized. Possession limits may vary, as well as the consequences for using marijuana outside of the state-mandated guidelines. See below for more information about the current legal status and recreational legalization efforts.

Is Weed Decriminalized in Kentucky?

Did you know Kentucky is one of the 19 states that haven’t passed a decriminalization law for marijuana possession? That means that even if you’re caught with just a small amount of weed, you could face up to 45 days in jail or a fine of $250. It’s pretty harsh compared to the 31 states that have either legalized cannabis or reduced the penalty for possession to a fine. 

In 2023, Kentucky lawmakers tried to legalize marijuana, but nothing happened before the legislative deadlines. If you want to help stop the criminalization of cannabis consumers, you can let your representatives know in 2024 or ask them to regulate and legalize marijuana for adults. It’s important because criminal records can severely affect people’s lives, making it hard to get an education, a job, housing, and even a professional license.

Cannabinoid Variants

Although marijuana-derived cannabinoids have very strict regulations, hemp-derived cannabinoids exist in a completely different landscape. And, states have the rights to determine just how they plan to regulate these alt noids. 

Is CBD legal in Kentucky?

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production in the United States. This legislation opened up vast possibilities for CBD-rich hemp to enter the mainstream market, allowing consumers to purchase CBD in retail establishments and online. CBD is often found in supplements, topicals, edibles, portable vape pens, home goods, and beauty and body care products. 

The Farm Bill legally protects CBD production, but it is not without stipulation. All commercially available CBD products must be derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, some states have elected to regulate CBD independently and may have further restrictions on its use and distribution. CBD is legal in Kentucky.

Is Delta-8 legal in Kentucky?

House Bill 544 in Kentucky proposes restrictions for Delta-8 THC products sold in the state, including age restrictions of 21 and up, testing, and labeling requirements. The bill passed in the state House with a 97-0 vote and is now awaiting a vote in the state Senate.

Delta-8 THC products have become increasingly popular in Kentucky since the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp plants with 0.3% or less THC. So long as the product is made from hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC, it is legal in Kentucky.

Is Delta-10 legal in Kentucky? 

Kentucky has legalized Delta-10 THC as a hemp-derived product. The state’s hemp association played a vital role in making hemp-derived THC products legal in Kentucky. Therefore, as of now, it’s legal to enjoy hemp-derived THC products so long as they abide by the rules set forth by the Farm Bill. 

Are THC-O and other THC variants legal in Kentucky? 

In recent years, alternative hemp-derived cannabinoids have dominated the market as a more accessible way to get high. However, they have existed in a legal gray area until February 2023. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has declared Delta-8-THC-O and Delta-9-THC-O illegal controlled substances. These compounds are not naturally occurring in either hemp or marijuana and are considered synthetic cannabinoids. 

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its byproducts so long as they contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC by volume. The market for cannabinoids has grown in the states since then as several alternative cannabinoids emerged, including synthetic THC isomers. 

For the time being, this latest update does not affect alternative cannabinoids like THC-JD, THC-P, THCP-O, THC-H, and THC-B because they do exist naturally in trace amounts. Advocates feel that only the end of the federal prohibition on marijuana will successfully regulate synthetic or naturally occurring cannabinoids.

Are HHC and HHC-O legal in Kentucky?

HHC and HHC-O are popular cannabinoids for their mild effects that offer users a slight high comparable to Deltas 8 and 10. In Kentucky, HHC and HHC-O are legal as long as they comply with the Farm Bill. 

Cultivation Laws

In Kentucky, cannabis cultivation for any purpose, including personal medical use, is currently illegal under state law. However, the state has legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp, which is defined as the cannabis plant with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%.

Individuals who wish to cultivate industrial hemp must obtain a license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The state has established a licensing program for growers, processors, and handlers of industrial hemp, which includes background checks and fees. However, this program is not designed for personal medical use.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in Kentucky

To qualify for a Kentucky medical marijuana card and legally obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary once it becomes available, you must meet certain criteria. This includes having a physician diagnose you with a condition that is suitable for medical marijuana treatment, obtaining an official written certification from a licensed Kentucky physician, and being a resident of Kentucky with valid proof of residency, such as a KY driver’s license or KY state ID card.

To find out how to obtain a medical card when it becomes available and to stay up to date on the progress of the medical marijuana program in Kentucky, you can visit the Marijuana Policy Project.

Where to Buy Weed in Kentucky

Since medical marijuana has not yet been launched in Kentucky, there are currently no legal avenues for purchasing cannabis. 


As of now, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries in Kentucky as the state’s Medical Marijuana program is not yet fully established. While the use of CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC is legal for certain medical conditions, there are currently no licensed dispensaries to purchase these products. 

It is important to note that buying marijuana from illegal sources is illegal and poses potential risks to health and safety. It’s recommended to wait for the full establishment of the Medical Marijuana program or explore legal alternatives until then.


There are currently no legal cannabis delivery options in Kentucky. 

Direct to Consumer

Purchasing hemp-derived cannabinoids in brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers is the best bet for buying cannabis products in Kentucky. 

Black Market

Despite legalization efforts, the marijuana black market remains active. The illegal purchase of weed from a black market dealer comes with serious risks. Not only is it difficult to determine the potency and purity of the product, but the legal implications can be disastrous. In some cases, a mere slap on the wrist, but in others, buying weed illegally results in jail time or a prison sentence. For those that live in a state with a medical or recreational marijuana program, it’s best to obtain cannabis through legal channels.

Efforts to Legalize Recreational Weed in Kentucky

Legislation has been introduced in Kentucky to legalize the use, possession, and retail sale of marijuana for adults. Currently, possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor under state law and is punishable by up to 45 days in prison and a fine of $250.

HB 225, if passed, would allow voters to decide on the issue of legalization. If approved by voters, individuals 21 years of age or older would be permitted to possess, use, purchase, or sell up to one ounce of cannabis, cultivate up to five cannabis plants for personal use, and engage in the production, processing, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

For now, Kentucky has plenty of work to do to roll out its medical marijuana program

General FAQ

Where can you smoke weed in Kentucky?

Marijuana consumption is illegal in Kentucky, whether it is for medical or recreational purposes. Therefore, there are no legal places to consume marijuana in Kentucky. 

Can you smoke weed in public in Kentucky? 

Simple – Nope!

When was medical weed legalized in Kentucky?

Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, signed a bill legalizing medical cannabis into law in Kentucky on March 31, 2023, making it the 38th state to have a comprehensive medical cannabis law. 

Punishment for Illegal Acts FAQ

What are the penalties for selling, gifting, transporting, or importing weed?

For possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana it’s considered a misdemeanor and can result in up to 45 days in prison and a fine of up to $250.

But if you’re caught selling or trafficking weed, the penalties get even harsher. For example, selling or trafficking less than eight ounces is a misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $500. However, a second or subsequent offense can result in a felony charge, with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and up to five years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

Selling or trafficking larger quantities of weed is also a felony, with mandatory minimum sentences and fines increasing with the amount involved. Selling to a minor or within 1,000 yards of a school or park can also result in a felony charge with mandatory minimum sentences and fines.

What is the penalty for selling to a minor?

In Kentucky, selling weed to a minor is a serious offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000 for the first offense. If someone is convicted of selling to a minor again, they could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

What is possession with the intent to sell?

In Kentucky, possession of eight ounces or more of marijuana is considered prima facie evidence that the person possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell or transfer it. This means that if someone is found with eight ounces or more, it is assumed that they intended to sell or transfer it, even if they claim otherwise. 

The penalties for possession with the intent to sell or transfer marijuana in Kentucky depend on the amount of marijuana involved and whether it is a first offense or a subsequent offense.

When is possession a crime?

Possession is a crime if you possess more than the allotted legal limit or if you are suspected of intent to distribute.

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