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Beshear signs executive orders easing restrictions on medical cannabis, regulation of Delta-8

Corrine Boyer

Kentucky is easing restrictions on residents who leave the state to access medical marijuana in places where it’s legal.

Flanked by a doctor, military veteran, and a former federal prosecutor, Governor Andy Beshear on Tuesday signed two executive orders aimed at helping those struggling with certain medical conditions such as chronic pain and PTSD.

The first would protect Kentuckians who travel to states where medical cannabis been decriminalized. Consumers would have to meet specific conditions like purchasing no more than eight ounces at a time, maintain a receipt of purchase, and have medical documentation of 21 qualifying illnesses, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and terminal illness.

Beshear says the goal is to help chronic sufferers manage pain without the threat
of opioid addiction.

“I have seen the devastation of opioids. In 2021, we lost 2,250 Kentuckians to a drug overdose, Beshear said. "A recent study showed a 64% reduction in opioid use among chronic pain patients who used medical cannabis, yet for years, including this past legislative session, medical cannabis has failed to pass, even as nearly 90% of Kentuckians now favor it.”

The second executive order regulates the sale of Delta-8, which contains THC, but at a lower level than marijuana. While it’s not a controlled substance under state or federal law, the state currently has no checks and balances on how Delta-8 is packaged and sold.

Beshear said the executive action is no substitute for what he calls much-needed legislation. The Democratic governor says he’ll press lawmakers next session for full legalization of medical cannabis, which is the case in all but two of Kentucky's seven surrounding states.

The executive orders take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Here is the complete list of medical conditions covered by the executive order concerning the use of medical marijuana:

a. cancer
b. ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease
c. epilepsy
d. intractable seizures
e. Parkinson's disease
f. Crohn's disease
g. multiple scleroris
h. sickle cell anemia
i. severe and chronic pain
j. post traumatic stress disorder
k. cachexia or wasting syndrome
l. neuropathies
m. severe arthritis
n. hepatis C
o. fibromyalgia
p. intractable pain
q. muscular dystrophy
r. Huntington's disease
s. HIV or AIDS
t. glaucoma
u. a terminal illness

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.