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Is marijuana still illegal in Kentucky?

Kentucky supporters of legalizing medical marijuana, led by the governor and the House speaker, did not see a bill for medical marijuana pass in the 2016 legislative session. Yet, supporters are feeling more confident that such legalization will happen.

However, for the present, marijuana remains illegal in Kentucky with the exception of allowing patients access to cannabidiol, which is a non-psychoactive extract from marijuana for medicinal use. However, promoters of medical marijuana believe this exception, that became law in 2014, is not going to change the availability or use of pot.

History of Legalizing Marijuana in Kentucky

In 2014 Kentucky passed a bill allowing access for patients to cannabidiol as noted earlier. Since then:

In 2015, the House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) introduced a bill for allowing medical marijuana to be used in Kentucky. Also in 2015, Matt Bevin was elected governor. Part of Bevin's campaign platform was the legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky. During the campaign, Bevin stated, "there is unequivocal medical evidence" that medical marijuana is a useful medicinal tool.

In 2016, bills were introduced in both the Kentucky Senate and the Kentucky House to legalize medical marijuana. In addition, State Senator Perry Clark introduced SB 13. This is a bill to totally remove restrictions on marijuana in Kentucky, making it legal for medicinal and personal recreational use. However, before any of these three bills were voted on, the legislature adjourned. It is expected that during the 2017 legislative session one or all of these bills will get a vote.

Kentucky's Current Marijuana Laws

Possession of Marijuana

This is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $250 and/or 45 days in jail.

Sale or Trafficking of Marijuana



Jail or Prison Time

Maximum Fine

Less than 8 oz (first offense)


1 year


Less than 8 oz (subsequent offense)


1-5 years


8 oz - 5 lbs (first offense)


1-5 years


8 oz - 5 lbs (subsequent offense)


5-10 Years


5 lbs or more (first offense)


5-10 Years


5 lbs or more (subsequent offense)


10-20 Years


What do I do if I am arrested for drug possession in Kentucky?

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Kentucky, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can investigate the facts of your case to build a strong defense. Contact Dowan Law Offices in Elizabethtown, Kentucky toll-free at 800-482-1391 or use our online form. We will discuss your legal rights and help you understand your options moving forward.

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