Kentucky Cannabis and Gun Rights for Medical Cannabis Patients
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In April 2014, Kentucky’s Governor Steve Beshear enacted a law permitting the use of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) derivatives for epilepsy treatment through clinical trials at the University of Kentucky. However, this law lacked provisions for legal CBD production and sales. Subsequent attempts in 2015 to establish a comprehensive Kentucky cannabis program with House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 40 faced opposition from groups like the National Marijuana Initiative and the Kentucky Baptist Convention, leading to their failure in committee.
In 2020, a significant step was taken when House Bill 136 received approval from the Kentucky House of Representatives, proposing limitations on medical marijuana use and banning smoking. The bill was delayed in the Kentucky State Senate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kentucky Cannabis: Will it Happen?
Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order in 2022 established the “Team Kentucky Medical Cannabis Committee” aimed at gathering public input and exploring medical cannabis options. This was followed by the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 47, legalizing medical cannabis in the state and setting a timeline for its implementation, effective from January 1, 2025. Senate Bill 47 establishes a carefully regulated program allowing seriously ill individuals to utilize medical cannabis under healthcare professionals’ guidance and through regulated dispensaries.
To qualify for medical cannabis use, patients must have a qualifying condition, obtain written certification from authorized practitioners, and hold a state identification card. Patients under 18 may be administered cannabis by their parents or legal guardians and caregivers, but cannot possess or purchase cannabis themselves.
Smoking cannabis is prohibited, and vaporized cannabis sales are limited to patients aged 21 or below. Home cultivation is not allowed. Regulatory oversight is entrusted to the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, supported by a Board of Physicians and Advisors.
Medical cannabis businesses encompass dispensaries, processors, producers, safety compliance facilities, and cultivators in various tiers. Comprehensive regulations — including employee training, recordkeeping, security, and testing — will be established by July 1, 2024. Local governments can opt out of cannabis businesses, but residents can petition to re-include them via local ballots. Taxes and fees for licensing and patient registration are to be determined, and medical cannabis will be subject to sales and excise taxes.
Does Having a Medical Cannabis Card Mean Not Being Eligible for a Gun License in Kentucky?
Having a medical cannabis card could potentially affect your eligibility for a gun license in Kentucky, as federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that individuals who use or possess marijuana, even for medical purposes, could face restrictions on firearms ownership due to federal regulations.
The medical marijuana law in Kentucky is relatively new and is set to take effect on January 1, 2025. As of publication, there are not yet existing state-specific regulations or legal precedents in Kentucky regarding the interplay between holding a medical cannabis card and eligibility for a gun license.
Under federal law, anyone who is an “unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is prohibited from possessing firearms. Since marijuana is classified as a controlled substance at the federal level, individuals who are registered medical cannabis patients may fall under this category. Having a medical cannabis card might be seen as evidence of being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, which could impact your ability to obtain or hold a gun license.
Can You Take Your Gun to a Dispensary in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, buying firearms from private individuals doesn’t require a license, waiting period, or registration. Federal Firearms Dealers, however, must perform a background check when buying a handgun. Open carry is allowed for those 18 and older without a license, except in specific restricted areas such as businesses who sell alcohol.
Kentucky became a permitless carry state in July 2019, making concealed carry legal for those at least 21, without needing a license, as long as they can legally possess a firearm. To carry concealed out-of-state, a separate conceal carry license is necessary.
Kentucky’s Concealed Carry of Deadly Weapons (CCDW) licenses encompass not only handguns but also various weapons like knives, clubs, and brass knuckles. Completion of a state-approved firearms training course is required for obtaining a CCDW license. This license is accessible to residents and stationed military personnel but is unavailable to non-residents. In terms of reciprocity, Kentucky honors valid concealed carry permits from all U.S. jurisdictions.
Certain places in Kentucky are off-limits for carrying firearms, even with a permit or license. These include:
- Any elementary or secondary school facility without the consent of school authorities, including school grounds, recreation areas, athletic fields, or any other property owned, used, or operated by any board of education, school, board of trustees, regents, or directors for the administration of any public or private educational institution
- Any child-care facility, any day-care center or any certified family child-care home
- Any school bus
- Any police station or sheriff’s office
- Any detention facility, prison or jail
- Any courthouse solely occupied by the Court of Justice courtroom, or court proceeding
- Any meeting of the governing body of a county, municipality or special district (if passed by local ordinance) or any meeting of the General Assembly or a committee of the General Assembly
- Any room where alcoholic beverages are being sold at a retail establishment licensed to sell alcohol “by the drink.” This prohibition does not apply to restaurants that are open to the public, have dining facilities for at least 50 people, and receive less than 50 percent of their annual food and beverage income from the sale of alcohol
- An area of an airport to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property
- Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation
- Colleges, universities, technical schools and community colleges that have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them (check with each institution for specific allowances)
- Private businesses who have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them (check with each business for specific allowances)
- Areas in which state and local governments have exercised their authority to limit the carrying of concealed weapons on property owned or controlled by them
Given that Kentucky’s medical marijuana program is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2025, specific regulations regarding whether firearms can be carried into a medical cannabis dispensary have not yet been fully established or addressed in the existing legal framework.
While the existing gun laws in the state of Kentucky do not explicitly mention medical marijuana dispensaries, it is reasonable to assume that such dispensaries — as establishments involving controlled substances — could potentially fall under the category of restricted areas. As the specific legal nuances can vary and may evolve, it is recommended that you consult with local legal experts or relevant authorities in Kentucky to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on whether carrying a gun to a medical marijuana dispensary is permissible under current state laws and regulations.
Can You Consume CBD and Own a Gun in Kentucky?
In 2017, Kentucky further defined its stance with HB 333, which clarified controlled substance language. The bill excluded “a cannabidiol product derived from industrial hemp” from the definition of “marijuana.” Kentucky demonstrated its commitment to hemp even before the 2018 Farm Bill by urging the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana at the federal level.
After the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, Kentucky made significant strides in hemp-related legislation. Governor Steve Beshear signed SB 124 into law in April 2014, granting access to CBD derived from hemp for qualifying patients with a doctor’s recommendation. The state also embarked on an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program overseen by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, leading to a thriving hemp market.
Presently, Kentucky aligns its definition of “industrial hemp” with the federal framework in 7 U.S.C. sec. 5940, specifying that it must have a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
However, owning a gun while using CBD — even within the legal parameters — can be a complex matter due to federal regulations. Given this potential conflict between state and federal laws, we recommended consulting with legal experts or relevant authorities in Kentucky to fully understand the implications of consuming CBD and owning a gun within the state’s specific legal context.
Can I Own a Gun if My Spouse Has A Medical Cannabis Card in Kentucky?
While the medical marijuana law in Kentucky is relatively new and set to take effect in January 2025, there are not existing laws as of publication directly addressing firearm ownership in relation to a spouse’s medical cannabis card.
Given the potential complexities and potential conflict between state and federal laws, it is advisable to consult with legal experts or relevant authorities in Kentucky to obtain accurate and up-to-date information about the implications of firearm ownership when a spouse has a medical cannabis card. This is particularly important considering the evolving nature of medical marijuana laws and firearm regulations.
Can I Own a Gun if I Have an Expired Medical Card?
As of publication, there are not yet specific existing laws or precedents directly addressing the scenario of firearm ownership in relation to an expired medical marijuana card.
However, it’s worth noting that under federal law, the possession and use of marijuana — including its derivatives — remain classified as illegal. While an expired medical marijuana card might indicate past legal use, there could still be potential implications for firearm ownership under federal regulations.
It is recommended to consult legal experts in Kentucky to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information about the interplay between an expired medical card and firearm ownership, especially given the newness of the medical marijuana laws — and the evolving nature of those laws — in the state.
Can You Own a Gun if You Work at a Dispensary?
There are not yet specific existing laws or regulations in Kentucky that directly address firearm ownership for individuals employed at medical marijuana dispensaries. However, working at a medical marijuana dispensary could potentially be perceived as involvement with a controlled substance, which could raise concerns regarding firearm ownership under federal law.
The newness of the medical marijuana law underscores the importance of seeking legal guidance to navigate potential legal complexities effectively.