Applications now open for Kentucky cannabis business licenses

Published 4:15 pm Monday, July 1, 2024

By Sarah Ladd

Kentucky Lantern

Kentuckians can now begin applying for a cannabis business license, and medical providers can apply to Kentucky’s Board of Medical Licensure and Board of Nursing for permission to write cannabis prescriptions.

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This is thanks to a bipartisan House Bill 829 that became law during this year’s legislative session and moved up the medical cannabis timeline from January 2025 to July 1, 2024.

In 2023, the legislature legalized medical marijuana for Kentuckians suffering from chronic illnesses.

Patients who qualify — with a history of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancer or other approved medical conditions — still won’t be able to apply for cannabis cards until Jan. 1.

Applications will remain open until Aug. 31. There are a limited number of licenses that the state will distribute to cultivators and dispensers, and winners will be chosen in a lottery system. Kentucky will award 48 licenses to dispensaries in 11 regions across the state, 10 to processors and 16 to cultivators.

Lottery winners are expected to be announced in October, Gov. Andy Beshear previously said. Filling the applications via lottery, Beshear said in April, is a way to keep the process more equitable.

“It creates a more fair process,” he said. “Not one where people bid against each other and only then the big companies can be a part of it.”

Applicants will be required to pay an application fee and provide documentation including business history, operating plans and financial information.

“The program is focused on ensuring cannabis business licensing is fair, transparent and customer-service oriented,” Sam Flynn, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Medical Cannabis, said in a statement.

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Middletown, the primary sponsor of HB 829, said the new timeline is “the culmination of a long effort to provide for the safe use of medical marijuana to provide relief to Kentuckians suffering from pain and disease.”

“We’re taking the regulatory process seriously,” Nemes said, “and looking forward to seeing it move forward.”