Kentucky: Governor Issues Executive Order Providing Pardon Protections to Qualifying Medical Cannabis Patients

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order providing legal protections for qualifying patients who obtain medical cannabis products from out-of-state.  

The order provides those eligible patients a “full, complete, and conditional pardon” if they face prosecution for the possession of up to eight ounces of cannabis.

“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,” Gov. Beshear said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The Governor lacks the authority to unilaterally amend the state’s marijuana penalties or to dictate which laws police enforce or not, but he does possess the authority to issue pardons. . Other politicians in the state, however, have criticized the move as overreaching. 

NORML’s Political Associate Jacob McMaster praised the Governor’s action. “Because there is currently no active medical cannabis program in Kentucky, with only low-THC medical CBD allowable under state law, this is a welcome step forward in reforming the state’s outdated cannabis policies. Hopefully, Governor Beshear and the Assembly follow today’s executive order with the creation of the state’s own medical cannabis program. But for now, anything that keeps innocent people out of handcuffs and free of a criminal record should be considered a win.”

A second executive order issued by Gov. Beshear calls for the creation of a regulatory structure surrounding how Delta-8 THC products are packaged and sold in the state. Delta-* THC products are currently unregulated in Kentucky. 

NORML issued a report on delta-8 THC and other novel, synthetically derived cannabinoids that cautioned consumers to avoid these unregulated products because they are untested and may contain impurities.