Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) on Tuesday issued an executive order allowing individuals with certain severe medical conditions and who meet specific requirements to be able to possess and consume small amounts of cannabis purchased from a state with legal access.
Beshear’s action marks the first time that a governor has legalized medical cannabis possession and use via executive order. The order does not set up a legal mechanism for patients to purchase cannabis in the state. Kentucky borders West Virginia and Ohio, which have legalized medical cannabis, and Illinois, which allows adult-use sales.
The order includes a list of eligible conditions and requires written certification of the condition from a physician. In a press release, the governor’s office notes that patients covered under the order “will need to keep their receipt” from legal purchases.
“Kentuckians suffering from chronic and terminal conditions are going to be able to get the treatment they need without living in fear of a misdemeanor. With 37 states already legalizing medical cannabis and 90% of Kentucky adults supporting it, I am doing what I can to provide access and relief to those who meet certain conditions and need it to better enjoy their life, without pain.” — Beshear in a statement
Beshear also signed a measure to regulate the sale of delta-8 THC. In a statement, Beshear said the state needed to establish a regulatory structure for delta-8 products as there are currently “no checks on how it is packaged and sold.”
“The structure can and will also serve as a template for when the General Assembly fully legalizes medical cannabis,” Beshear said. “That means we can learn in real-time, train our people, and be ready to go.”
Beshear had convened a Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee to help guide his cannabis policies after lawmakers had failed to pass the reforms. That committee found 98% of Kentuckians supported medical cannabis legalization.
Last month, Beshear announced that individuals convicted of simple cannabis possession with otherwise clean records can apply for a pardon of the charges.
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