Updated August 2019
Kentucky has historically not been open to cannabis legalization. It has yet to legalize medical marijuana or decriminalize marijuana possession. However, possession of small amounts and first-time offenses are dealt with relatively less harshly than others states where marijuana is illegal. Learn more about Kentucky marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in Kentucky
Is marijuana legal in Kentucky? No– recreational marijuana is illegal, however, there are no minimum mandatory sentences for marijuana possession or sale. Possession of less than 8 ounces of recreational marijuana is charged as a Class B misdemeanor punishable by 45 days in jail with a $250 fine. Sale of less than 8 ounces as a first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a 1-year jail term and $500 in fines.
Subsequent offenses of selling the same quantity and sale of more than 8 ounces of recreational marijuana are charged as felonies and punishable by 1 to 10 years in jail with up to $10,000 in fines.
Under Kentucky marijuana laws, conditional release can be allowed for first-time offenders. First-time marijuana offenders can also get alternative or diversion sentencing.
Medical Marijuana in Kentucky
Medical marijuana is illegal in Kentucky, however, the state has passed a medical bill that permits the use of low-THC cannabis. Kentucky’s low-THC medical cannabis law, passed in 2014, authorizes low-THC oil to be excluded from the definition of marijuana, and thereby legal for patients with intractable epilepsy who have a written recommendation from a physician.
Kentucky legislators did propose comprehensive medical marijuana bills in 2014, 2015, and 2016, but in all instances the legislature failed to pass the legislation or adjourned without taking action. Still, the legislators’ continuing efforts to present these bills leave activists hopeful that soon one will gain enough support to pass.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Kentucky
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Kentucky
Under Kentucky marijuana law, the growing of marijuana plants remains illegal. Cultivation of fewer than 5 plants as a first-time offense is charged as a misdemeanor with 1-year imprisonment and $500 in fines. The subsequent offense is charged as a felony with 1 year to 5 years in jail with $10,000 in fines. The first offense of cultivating 5 plants or more is a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in jail with $10,000 in fines. The subsequent offense is also charged as a felony with 5 to 10 years in jail with $10,000 in fines.
Kentucky is a nation-leading hemp producer. Senate Bill 50 was passed in 2013, which made the cultivation of industrial hemp legal for state-sponsored research. The bill imposed regulations for the licensed production of industrial hemp. According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, as of August 2018, there are more than 110 hemp growers that have obtained licenses.
Unlicensed cultivation of hemp is still a serious crime in the state. The penalties for growing hemp without a license are the same as those for illegally growing marijuana.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
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