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Medical cannabis legalization bill passes Kentucky Senate

Sen. Damon Thayer speaks with Sen. Jason Howell inside the Kentucky state Senate.
LRC Public Information
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, (left) confers with Sen. Jason Howell, R-Murray, on the Senate floor.

With just hours left to consider new bills, a measure legalizing medical cannabis passed the Senate marking a historic moment.

Senate Bill 47 legalizes using and possessing cannabis to treat conditions like PTSD and seizure disorders as long as it can’t be smoked.

Republican Sen. Steven Meredith, from Leitchfield, said the legislation would be worth it if it helped at least one person.

“Will this be abused by some folks, it most certainly will. But again, if we could benefit one person, one child, I think it’s worthwhile,” he said.

Republican Sen. Stephen West, of Paris introduced the bill, which would also provide guidelines for growing, dispensing and selling the substance.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown who has opposed the measure in past years, voted yes, calling it a tough decision.

“People have asked me why, why did you change your mind? One word: compassion,” he said.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, maintained his opposition to legalize medical cannabis and voted no, though he said earlier this year he would support medical cannabis use in end-of-life circumstances.

Bills legalizing medical cannabis passed the House with bipartisan support in 2020 and 2022, but the measure failed in the Senate both years.

SB 47 has enjoyed more support from legislators this session, and with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in support of legalizing the substance, it could be the year the measure becomes law.

Medical cannabis would not be accessible until 2025, per the proposal.

The House could pass the measure when they return to Frankfort at the end of the month.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at