Kentucky Cannabis: A New Timeline and More License Updates

Everything We Know in Kentucky Cannabis

There has been a flurry of activity in Kentucky—from new legislation to emergency regulations to website updates—and we’re eager to break down everything we know that’s happening in the Blue Grass State.


Kentucky Cannabis Timeline Moves Up to July 1

With the passage of HB 829 in the legislature and Governor Andy Beshear’s signature on the dotted line, we are getting some major updates to the roll out of the medical cannabis program. The primary change that is associated with this bill is that it moves the timeline for licensure up for prospective businesses.

Qualifying Kentucky patients seeking medical cannabis  will still need to wait until January 1, 2025 to make their first purchase, but under the newly passed bill, licenses can be issued for all license types as soon as July 1, 2024.

Cannabis Cultivators Get a Head Start

Crucially, cultivators will be able to start growing cannabis as soon as they are licensed, this being one of the driving forced behind HB 829 to allow cultivators, processors, and producers enough time to have product available come the start of 2025.

Republican State Senator Stephen West—the lead author of SB 47 which created the medical cannabis program last year—said the passage of HB 829 was crucial to ensure a smooth rollout. “It does allow these businesses — the growers especially — to get up and running, start growing product so there’s actually something there to sell January 1.” 

So, if you’re interested in receiving a medical cannabis license from Kentucky for your medical cannabis operations, be prepared for July 1.


Welcome, Office of Medical Cannabis!

Under HB 829, Kentucky can welcome a new office. Specifically, the Office of Medical Cannabis. This new Office will be headed by an executive director appointed by the Governor and will implement, operate, oversee, and regulate the state’s medicinal cannabis program. Within this Office there will be the Division of Enforcement and Compliance and the Division of Licensure and Access. Each of these offices will be headed by a director.


Municipalities Expand Control Over Cannabis Operations

We also received some additional, and potentially controversial, details about the powers counties, cities, and towns have over cannabis licenses and cannabis operations. Local governments will have the option to opt-out of allowing cannabis businesses to operate in their boundaries, being able to do so until the end of this year. Though ordinance or a voter referendum, a local government can still opt-out and potentially void issued cannabis licenses from the state. It is therefore strongly recommended prospective cannabis operators gauge local government support about cannabis sooner rather than later, or risk having a license being voided. Not doing so, in West’s words, would be “a bad business decision…Everyone should know, if you get licensed and get set up before [2025], you’re taking a bit of a risk.”


Regions, Licenses, and Requirements for Cannabis Licensure

On April 18, we received a fresh batch of emergency regulations focusing on cannabis business licenses and initial and renewal applications for cannabis businesses. They may not be long, but they pack in plenty of crucial information for prospective license seekers.

Medical Cannabis License Limits

We have learned that this first application window—slatted to occur between July 1-August 31 this year—will see 16 cultivator licenses be issued, 10 processors, and 48 dispensaries. There will be no processor licenses issued at this application round. Dispensary licenses will also be awarded based on eleven regions with regions receiving four to six dispensary licenses, depending on population size. 

Applying For Multiple Licenses

Individuals may apply for multiple cultivation licenses if they submit licenses for different cultivation tiers (tiers I, II, and III being offered in this round), and so long as they have distinct addresses for each tier location. Individuals may also apply for as many as eleven (11) dispensary licenses if they have control of eleven distinct addresses for each of the regions. A crucial detail here—applicants cannot submit multiple dispensary applications if the addresses for each of the proposed dispensary is in the same region. So check out the Dispensary Licensing Region Map to see where your dispensaries may be located.

Prioritizing Hemp Farmers

Additional language in the law includes prioritizing currently licensed hemp businesses in good standing with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Now, when the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is considering cannabis business applications, they shall prioritize the review of applications submitted by an individual or entity that meets these requirements. This isn’t too surprising given the size of the state’s Hemp Program.

License Lottery is Likely

We have also found out a lottery may be used if the program receives more qualified applications than there are to be issued license types. Which means individuals will want to pay careful attention to all of the application requirements in order to qualify for the lottery, which would be scheduled for October 15. And there is a lot to submit for the application. 

In addition to information for each of the individuals and entities of interest, applicants will need to submit:

  1. Location Information (such as GPS coordinates and address of the proposed cannabis site)
  2. Financial Plan 
  3. Site Plan
  4. Operational Plan
  5. Timeline for Operation
  6. Documentation of access to capital. 

This is in addition to documents related to subsequent standard operating procedures which will be required prior to operations including plans on security, training, recordkeeping, inventory management, and more.


Planning For Your Kentucky Cannabis Business Starts Now

There is plenty to be doing now (especially getting in touch with municipal governments if you haven’t already!) along with preparing your plans for application submission. We’re still waiting on additional regulations about application requirements, but it’s never too early to start (especially with an expedited timeline now in place) preparing with financial modeling and business planning, which is where Canna Advisors can help. 

Leverage our decades of cannabis consulting experience by contacting our team or booking an hourly consultation. Get started on your Kentucky cannabis business and make your mark early.

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