Is Weed Legal in Kentucky? KY Cannabis Laws (2023 Update)

Is Marijuana Legal in Kentucky Illustration
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: June 23, 2023

Kentucky leads the nation in growing hemp, one of the most versatile crops on Earth.

The state used to have some of the harshest laws in the U.S. next to Kansas, Indiana, and Georgia. But on March 31, 2023, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear finally signed into law the state’s medical marijuana law. This officially makes Kentucky the 38th state that legalized marijuana for medical use.

Marijuana for adult use remains illegal. But since hemp is legal in Kentucky, you can enjoy psychoactive cannabinoids like delta 8 THC without worrying about being charged with a misdemeanor and put into jail.

In this article, we share everything there is to know about marijuana laws in Kentucky.

Let’s start with the basics.

Is Marijuana Legal in Kentucky?

Marijuana for medical use is now legal in Kentucky, after Gov. Beshear signed into law SB 47 in March 2023. However, medical marijuana patients will have to wait since the new law takes effect on January 1, 2025.

Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, remains illegal.

Related: Where is marijuana legal in the US?

Here’s a quick breakdown of different marijuana laws in Kentucky.

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Kentucky?

Image of a gavel and a marijuana bud

Kentucky now allows qualified patients to use medical marijuana. But when it comes to recreational use, Kentucky laws align with federal regulations. It’s illegal to possess, use, sell, and cultivate marijuana for recreational use.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Kentucky?

Yes, medical marijuana is now legal in Kentucky.

This year, the Kentucky House passed a new medical marijuana bill, and on March 31, 2023, the governor signed it into law.

To get into the state’s medical marijuana program, the patient must have a written certification from their doctor that they have a qualifying medical condition. They must also have a state identification card.

However, disqualifying felony convictions will exclude them from the program.

The new law allows qualified medical marijuana patients to:

  • Possess a maximum of a 30-day supply of medical marijuana in their residence.
  • Carry a maximum of a 10-day supply of medical marijuana on their person.
  • Vape but not smoke raw cannabis (only for patients above 21 years of age).

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Kentucky

If you’ve been arrested with marijuana in Kentucky, you may be charged with possession, which is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $250 and 45 days in prison.

The above punishment is for first-time offenders. If you’re caught with less than 8 ounces of marijuana for the second time, you can be sent to prison for one year and pay a $500 fine.

Is Marijuana Decriminalized in Kentucky?

Although other states amended their marijuana laws and decriminalized the possession of little amounts of marijuana, Kentucky remains steadfast in its backwardness. So far, no country has decided to make such a bold move.

What’s the Future of Cannabis Legalization in Kentucky?

Kentucky legalized medical marijuana in March 2023. However, qualified medical marijuana patients will have to wait a few more months since the new law will take effect in January 2025.

Marijuana for adult use is still illegal in Kentucky, and possession can land you in jail. However, several legislations like HB 22 and SB 51 and have already been filed. These aim to fully legalize marijuana in the state.

Bills on possession like HB 98 were also filed, aiming to reduce penalties for marijuana possession.

The passing of SB 47 is welcome news though. It’s already a big step toward cannabis legalization in Kentucky.

Fingers crossed!

Hemp-derived D8 THC: A Better & Legal Alternative to Marijuana in Kentucky

Hemp leaves in a lab

Since marijuana is heavily regulated in Kentucky, people are looking for legal alternatives to high-THC products.

Until recently, cannabis users have been limited to non-intoxicating cannabinoids from hemp, such as CBG, CBG, and CBC.

But thanks to recent breakthroughs in extraction methods, hemp manufacturers can now obtain usable amounts of delta 8 THC by converting CBD with acids and heavy metal reagents.

Hemp-derived delta 8 products still contain less than 0.3% THC, so they’re federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

Delta 8 and delta 9 are two different versions of the THC molecule.

While strikingly similar at first glance, there’s a subtle difference in how their atomic bonds are arranged.

Delta 8 THC has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, while for delta 9 THC, this bond is at the 9th chain. This subtle difference makes delta 8 THC about twice less potent as delta 9.

You’d need to take twice the amount of delta 8 THC to experience the same intensity of effects as with marijuana.

Cons of Delta 9 THC from Marijuana

Delta 9 THC is the primary intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana plants. In low and moderate doses, it can relieve physical discomfort, ease stress, reduce muscle tension, and improve cognitive performance.

Larger doses can get you high. The signature effects of high-THC cannabis include euphoria, elevated mood, increased appetite, laughter, altered perception of time, sharpened senses, and sleepiness.

However, delta-9 THC has a biphasic nature. In sensitive users, breaching their tolerance can induce mental discomfort and feelings of unease.

The side effects of delta 9 THC from marijuana include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Problems with coordination
  • Short-term memory impairment

That’s the main reason why hemp-derived delta 8 THC has become so popular recently.

Effects and Benefits of Delta 8 THC

Delta-8 THC produces the same type of effects as delta-9 THC, but since it’s not as powerful, it offers a smoother cognitive buzz that isn’t so stimulating in large doses. You can reap similar benefits to delta-9 THC, but with a lower risk of experiencing anxiety and paranoia.

The health benefits of delta 8 THC include:

  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Pain relief
  • Increased appetite
  • Feelings of calmness and relaxation
  • Neuroprotection

Is Delta 8 THC Legal in Kentucky?

Yes, hemp-derived delta 8 THC products are legal in Kentucky as long as they contain 0.3% THC or less.

The 2018 Farm Bill unintentionally created a legal loophole that legalized all isomers of THC if the end product meets the federal limits for delta-9 THC.

Although 18 states have banned delta 8 THC products by imposing the 0.3% limit on all variants of THC, Kentucky has decided to follow the provisions of the Farm Bill.

You can easily find hemp-derived delta 8 products in local stores and online.

Read more: Where is Delta 8 THC legal in the US?

Benefits of Buying Delta 8 THC Online

The delta 8 THC space is dynamically growing and lacks regulations in terms of manufacturing and testing standards. There are a lot of uncertified, sometimes downright dangerous delta 8 products being sold locally.

If you’re looking for a better toolset for vetting your potential vendors, consider buying delta 8 THC online.

You can:

  • Look into the certificate of analysis of any product
  • Compare customer reviews from different sources
  • Read the company’s website, especially the “About Us” section
  • Reach out to other users on forums (e.g. Reddit) and social media platforms

Online retailers also offer better prices for their products. You can save more money on high-quality delta 8 by using discounts, joining reward programs, or using subscription payments.

Not to mention that nothing can beat the convenience of browsing through hundreds of formulas in the comfort of your home, unrestricted by time and location.

Best Online Delta 8 THC Vendors

1. Area 52

image of Area 52 Delta8 Products

Get 15% off all Area 52 products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.

Area 52 is a Nevada-based company specializing in the extraction of minor cannabinoids. Its main focus is delta 8 THC distillate, which comes from organic hemp plants grown in Colorado and Kentucky.

Area 52 offers a traditional range of delta 8 products, including tinctures, gummies, vape carts, and pre-rolled joints. It also comes with more innovative formats, such as delta 8 honey They contain high levels of delta 8 THC and are exceptionally rich in terpenes, adding to the entourage effect.

Recently, Area 52 has also added real full-spectrum CBD extracts to its line-up. They’re enhanced with minor cannabinoids such as CBG (for energy) or CBN (for sleep).

As a sign of confidence in its products, Area 52 offers a 100% 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Finest Labs

image of Finest Labs Delta 8 THC Products

Finest Labs is a company known for its scientific approach to making cannabinoid extracts. The products are gently extracted without harsh acids or gases; they’re also triple-tested in an ISO-certified laboratory for potency and purity.

You can choose from a few classic delta 8 formats, such as tinctures, vape carts, and gummies. On top of that, Finest Labs offers a broad selection of terpenes, both single molecules and special blends that recreate the experience of specific cannabis strains.

Some of the Finest Labs products, such as the delta 8 THC tincture, are less potent, but lower potencies translate into a lower cost per product, making the company a decent pick for delta 8 users with lower budgets.


Who Can Use Medical Marijuana in Kentucky?

Once medical marijuana laws take effect in 2025, patients with qualifying conditions will be able to purchase marijuana from medical dispensaries.

Patients must receive a written recommendation from their doctors to apply for a medical marijuana card. They must also have a state identification card.

Some of the qualifying conditions to receive medical marijuana include:

  • Cancer
  • Treatment-resistant, debilitating, chronic pain
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasticity and spasms
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Can You Grow Marijuana in Kentucky?

No, growing marijuana is illegal in Kentucky. Getting caught growing cannabis plants at home will result in charges for a possession; the severity of your penalty will depend on the number of plants and their current growth stage.

Traveling with Marijuana in Kentucky

Woman holding a map in front of a car

Traveling with marijuana isn’t an option in Kentucky. Getting caught with weed in your vehicle may result in possession charges, and you’ll likely have your driver’s license taken away from you.

Once the state’s medical marijuana laws take effect though, qualified patients can travel with medical marijuana on their person within the state. To be safe, always check for any updates on Kentukcy’s laws.

Traveling with marijuana between state lines is a serious federal felony. Possession of fewer than 50 kilograms of marijuana or fewer than 50 plants is punishable with up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Can You Smoke Marijuana in Public?

No, it’s illegal to smoke marijuana in public in Kentucky. When you smoke weed on the streets, the police may charge you with possession.

Is CBD Oil from Hemp Legal in Kentucky?

Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in Kentucky under the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp is an agricultural commodity that can be grown and sold for any use, from clothes to food to construction materials, ropes, biofuel, and health supplements such as CBD oil.

You can easily find CBD products locally in health stores, fitness studios, pharmacies, and hemp stores in Kentucky. However, since the market is unregulated (a similar situation to delta 8 THC), the best deals on high-quality CBD oils are found online.

Key Takeaways on Marijuana Legal Status in Kentucky

Despite recent progress in medical marijuana laws, Kentucky is still far behind other states when it comes to legalization.

Possession of even small amounts is punishable by jail time and financial fines, and if you’re a second-time offender, you can be sent to prison for one year.

So far, the only legal alternative to marijuana in Kentucky is delta 8 THC. This milder isomer of delta 9 offers smoother psychoactive effects and doesn’t get you as anxious as high doses of regular weed.

But most importantly, delta 8 THC is federally legal. You can find it locally or purchase it from a reputable online store, which we recommend because of higher transparency standards and a better product selection.

Nina created following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.