Updated May 2020
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 other 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 eight 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 eight ounces as a first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a one-year jail term and $500 in fines.
Subsequent offenses of selling the same quantity and sale of more than eight ounces of recreational marijuana are charged as felonies and punishable by one 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.
What Is Conditional Release?
Under Kentucky marijuana laws, first-time offenders are eligible for conditional release, which allows most individuals accused of first-time marijuana offenses in Kentucky to opt for probation instead of having their case go to trial. If the accused successfully completes probation without any slip-ups, then the charge will be wiped from their criminal record. This allows first-time offenders to not have any kind of lasting negative impact from a first-time marijuana possession charge.
Is Hash Legal in Kentucky?
Hash is an extremely concentrated and potent form of cannabis, coming directly from the resin found on the plant. Also known as hashish, hash has very strong psychoactive and euphoric effects. Hash is illegal under Kentucky marijuana laws, with the penalties for hash possession, sale, and distribution being identical to the penalties for marijuana flower.
Is Marijuana Concentrate Legal in Kentucky?
Marijuana concentrate is a product that features a very high concentration of cannabinoids, such as THC. Marijuana concentrate is cultivated by taking cannabis and removing all of the unneeded plant extracts and byproducts, resulting in a pure and potent form of marijuana. Marijuana concentrate is illegal and holds the same penalties for possession, sale, and distribution as marijuana.
Kentucky Marijuana Laws on Drugged Driving
In any state, it is illegal to drive a car or operate any other type of motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana use can negatively affect an individual’s motor skills and attention to detail, resulting in an impaired ability to drive. This can make anyone driving after using marijuana a danger to themselves, their passengers, and anyone they share the road with.
That is why drugged driving of any kind is against the law and is considered a criminal activity in the state of Kentucky. If you have recently used marijuana or any other type of illicit drug, avoid the road at all costs.
Can You Possess Marijuana Paraphernalia in Kentucky?
Marijuana paraphernalia refers to any product that aids users in consuming and inhaling cannabis. Some of the most common types of marijuana paraphernalia include bongs, pipes, rolling papers, and vaporizers. In Kentucky, the possession of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor that can result in a $100 fine and up to one year of jail time.
Tax Stamps for Marijuana in Kentucky
If anyone in the state of Kentucky has marijuana in their possession for any reason, they are required to mark the marijuana with tax stamps. Tax stamps are stamps issued by the state that must be affixed to any marijuana contraband, and failing to do so can result in a criminal charge and/or a fine.
A tax stamp costs $3.50 a gram for those in possession of 42.5 grams of marijuana or more, and $1,000 a plant for those who have five or more marijuana plants. Failure to do so will result in a fine that is twice the amount of the tax stamps fee you were supposed to pay, as well as a class C felony charge.
Medical Marijuana in Kentucky
Medical marijuana is illegal in Kentucky; however, the state has passed a medical bill in 2014 that permits the use of low-THC cannabis. Kentucky’s low-THC medical cannabis law authorizes low-THC oil to be excluded from the definition of marijuana, 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 or adjourned without taking action. In 2018, lawmakers briefly considered medical marijuana legislation but eventually decided to shelve it in committee. In February 2020, the Kentucky House of Representatives approved a medical marijuana bill with a 65-30 vote, but the Senate decided to not take it up before adjourning for the year in April. Still, the legislators’ continuing efforts to present these bills leave activists hopeful that soon one will gain enough support to pass.
The Local Decriminalization of Marijuana in Kentucky
There are two local jurisdictions in Kentucky that have enacted local measures and regulations to decriminalize marijuana.
- In Jefferson County, the county attorney’s office allows individuals in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana to avoid any kind of criminal prosecution, as long as marijuana possession is the primary charge.
- In Louisville, a city council ordinance allows individuals to be in possession of up to one-half of an ounce of marijuana and face the lowest law enforcement priority.
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 five plants as a first-time offense is charged as a misdemeanor with one-year imprisonment and $500 in fines. The subsequent offense is charged as a felony with one year to five years in jail with $10,000 in fines. The first offense of cultivating five plants or more is a felony, punishable by one to five years in jail with $10,000 in fines. The subsequent offense is also charged as a felony with five 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 May 2020, there are more than 970 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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