Beshear signs pair of executive orders concerning medical cannabis

Michael Crimmins, Administration Reporter

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed two executive orders regarding the legal prescription and regulation of medical cannabis during a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 15. 

The first executive order allows individuals with certain medical conditions to legally purchase medical marijuana prescribed by a healthcare provider. 

For the legal purchases, the medical marijuana must be “lawfully purchased” in the U.S. and the receipt must be kept. The amount must not exceed eight ounces, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, Beshear said, and must have a “certificate” from a licensed medical provider that testifies the person has one of 21 medical conditions, like PTSD, chronic pain, Sickle Cell Anemia and cancer.

“The first one I will sign will allow Kentuckians suffering from conditions like chronic pain […] to possess and use small amounts of legally purchased Cannabis beginning January 1,” Beshear said.

According to the executive order roughly 90% of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical cannabis.

The second order is about the regulation of the sale of Delta 8, which has low levels of THC. Delta 8 is not classified as a controlled substance. 

During the press conference, Beshear said these executive orders are not supposed to substitute legislation. If medical marijuana legislation is passed that would take the place of these orders, Beshear said.

“This is just a step that can provide relief to some of our folks now as we wait for legislative action,” Beshear said.

Beshear, who is running for re-election, said medical marijuana legislation has been introduced in the past and passed in one of the chambers of the legislature. He said it was time to get legislation passed through both chambers. 

The 2023 Kentucky Legislature Regular Session convened on Sept. 19, 2022, according to the legislative research commission. 

Beshear said these executive orders do not override parameters set upon the employee by the employer.

Medical cannabis is already legal in 37 out of the 50 states in the U.S.

Ray Perry, secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, Kerry Harvey, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, and Linda McClain, an OB-GYN and addiction specialist practicing in Louisville, were all introduced during the press conference. They all spoke in favor of the orders saying it would help Kentuckians deal with pain.

“The governor’s actions that he announced today uses his executive power to provide real help to Kentuckians who suffer from debilitating medical conditions,” Harvey said. “The governor’s compassionate actions move Kentucky a step closer to the rest of America.”

In June, the governor assembled a medical marijuana committee composed of 17 members. Perry and Harvey said they were co-chairs on that committee where they heard from the roughly 3,500 Kentuckians who filled out the online surveys and attended one of their four town hall meetings. 

“Each story was very touching, and, honestly, it was hard to hear the desperation of people who are suffering who know it’s legal in 37 other states,” Perry said. “Today I’m happy to say their stories made a difference.”

“Today’s actions will help those people,” Harvey added.

Administration reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected].