Though many states have revised their marijuana laws significantly, some remain particularly tough on the drug. The increasing public interest in marijuana and CBD products as a potential alternative to addictive opiates and prescription drugs has worked wonders on the policies of states all over the country. But in some parts of the world, progress remains slow. This is the case in the state of Kentucky, where cannabis users must contend with some of the toughest marijuana laws in the country.
For Kentucky CBD users, the only form of CBD available under the state’s strict laws is hemp-derived CBD. While hemp CBD is legal under the 2014 farm bill, the state still criminalizes the possession of even small amounts of marijuana—even for patients with debilitating medical conditions. The laws of Kentucky regarding marijuana and CBD can be a bit difficult to follow, so this guide has been created to clear up some of the key distinctions made in Kentucky’s marijuana framework. However, readers are responsible for ensuring that they are ultimately compliant with all applicable laws.
This general overview will cover hemp regulations in Kentucky. Having an overview can provide users with basic information on how the state treats hemp.
Cannabis CBD Law in Kentucky
Because the state still criminalizes all forms of marijuana/cannabis, possessing CBD derived from the cannabis plant can carry significant criminal penalties. Users need to know that CBD can either come from the cannabis plant or the industrial hemp plant. The former contains a high amount of THC, the psychoactive chemical that gives users marijuana’s characteristic “high.”
The latter does not generate a high, but can still be used to potentially help with a variety of conditions or diseases. CBD derived from the industrial hemp plant is only legal if it contains below .03% THC content.
Industrial Hemp CBD
On the other end of the spectrum, some users are looking for the effects of CBD without the high of cannabis. CBD derived from the industrial hemp plant provides exactly that. The product is legal in all fifty states according to the federal farm bill of 2014. In Kentucky, users can gain access to low-THC industrial hemp CBD without a medical reason, and they can purchase it from small stores and shops all over the state.
Licensing from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture
According to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky reauthorized the Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. On December 20, 2018, the bill was signed into law.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDOA)’s website explains that even though hemp is no longer a controlled substance, it is not permissible to grow, handle, or process the plant, viable seed, leaf, or floral materials, without a hemp license that has been issued by the KDOA. This is codified in KRS 260.858(3), which also provides the penalties for those who violate the provision.
License Applications for Growers and Processors
Those who visit the KDOA website will find that the 2019 application period for growers, processors, and handlers has closed and that the department will not accept late submissions. However, those who are interested in becoming a part of the 2020 licensing process will be able to do so in the late fall. The KDOA website reminds individuals to watch the website for updates. The website also provides users with the evaluation criteria and the grower regulations, which can be found at 302 KAR 050.020, Section 4.
Further, the website makes clear that those who apply should fully review their application materials before contacting staff with any questions. The KDOA will also not provide users with consultation on completing a licensing application and will not provide education on industrial hemp production. There are also costs associated with the application process and cultivation, which are the full responsibility of the license holder.
Research Pilot Program
The state also has a Kentucky Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program. According to this page, the 2020 application period for hemp licenses will launch on November 15, 2019. The application differs from the 2019 period in several ways, which include an online application on the website and a mapping function that will upload the GPS coordinates automatically. These changes may make the application process a bit easier and more user-friendly – but that is for the applicant to determine.
Overall, those who are looking to learn more about Kentucky hemp regulations and who are interested in applying for the 2020 growing season should visit the KDOA website. The regulatory provisions are available, and by reviewing them, users can be equipped to go through the application process with the necessary knowledge.
Moving forward, it remains unclear whether Kentucky will follow the lead of several other states and begin to establish a medical framework for the legalization of small amounts of medical marijuana and related products. But as it stands, users in Kentucky need to understand that the state is staunchly opposed to the possession and use of cannabis products.