As long as federal legalization remains elusive, we will continue to have the same issues in deciphering state laws regarding CBD. At present, we have an unusual situation where marijuana legality is more clear-cut! A significant majority of states now have a medical marijuana program. Also, a growing number of states allow or are set to allow adult-use cannabis.
Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp is legal to grow in the United States as it is no longer considered a controlled substance. This is due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Like THC, however, CBD isn’t federally legal. States ultimately have the power over cannabidiol’s accessibility or lack thereof. Despite obscure county and local laws that suggest otherwise, most states allow CBD sale and consumption.
Today, we look at whether CBD in Kentucky is legal and if it is widely available. First, however, let’s see what the Bluegrass State has to say about cannabis.
Kentucky Marijuana Laws – Will the State Legalize MMJ?
At present, Kentucky is one of the ever-decreasing states that doesn’t have an MMJ program. However, the state has a reputation for hemp growing, and the crop was first cultivated in Kentucky in 1775.
Although no reports said when cannabis became popular in the state, a Louisville Times article from 1930 outlined the drug’s widespread use. Of course, marijuana became illegal in Kentucky seven years later with the Marihuana Tax Act.
The sale, cultivation, and use of the plant have remained prohibited ever since. In the last few years, lawmakers have introduced MMJ bills to the House and Senate. A pair of bills that proposed MMJ legalization didn’t make it out of committee in 2015.
In February 2020, House Bill 136 passed with a large majority. It was the first time that a medical marijuana bill ever made it that far in Kentucky. Yet, it took over a year for any further action to take place. In April 2021, two bills to legalize medical cannabis were introduced to the Senate and House. However, neither one was assigned to a committee. As a consequence, there were no hearings or public testimony.
It is unclear what the next step is, but likely, MMJ will not come to Kentucky for the foreseeable future. This is contrary to public opinion in the state. A poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky in February 2020 found that 90% of Kentucky residents favored MMJ. It seems as if there is a pocket of anti-cannabis senators dictating marijuana laws in KY.
Cannabis Penalties in Kentucky
The failure to pass any relevant legislation means Kentucky laws on marijuana remain extremely strict. The state has failed to pass any decriminalization bills, for example. As a result, the possession of any amount is classified as a misdemeanor. You could face up to 45 days in prison and have the conviction on your criminal record.
The sale of any amount of marijuana in Kentucky is also a misdemeanor. However, it carries a potential prison sentence of up to a year. Growing up to five plants carries the same penalty. Selling more than eight ounces or cultivating six or more plants are felonies. In both instances, you could spend up to five years in jail.
Is CBD Oil Permitted in Kentucky?
Like many states, there isn’t any specific law that permits the use of CBD oil in Kentucky. However, the state has followed most places in the United States by tolerating its usage.
The 2014 Farm Bill technically legalized the growth of hemp under certain restrictions. In that year, Governor Steve Beshear signed SB 124 into law. It allowed eligible patients to use hemp-derived CBD products as long as they had a doctor’s recommendation.
Hemp-derived CBD is allowed in Kentucky as long as it contains a maximum THC content of 0.3%.
In 2017, HB 333 was passed and broadly permitted the sale and use of hemp-derived CBD with a maximum THC content of 0.3%. The following year, lawmakers in the state-approved HB 197. This aligned Kentucky’s definition of industrial hemp with federal law.
Therefore, hemp-derived CBD products are legal in Kentucky. Such items must contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. There are no limits on the amount of hemp-derived CBD you can buy in Kentucky. Furthermore, the state doesn’t have any laws regarding CBD in food or beverages.
However, please note that CBD derived from cannabis remains illegal in Kentucky, even for medical patients. Those who use this form of CBD will be treated as if they have used THC-rich marijuana.
Kentucky CBD Oil – Licensing Requirements
At present, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) oversees the state’s USDA-approved hemp program. At least users of the substance know that CBD oil in Kentucky is of a reasonable standard if it comes from a licensed hemp farm. It is illegal to grow hemp for any purpose without a license.
All crops are tested for THC. Growers and processors must save their lab results for a minimum of three years. The KDA and law enforcement have the option of asking for these tests. Also, those who apply for a license must not have any felony convictions going back ten years. They must also have no drug-related misdemeanors across the same period.
However, even though CBD oil is legal in Kentucky, or at least widely tolerated, the state doesn’t have any specific regulations. Therefore, it becomes a case of ‘buyer beware.’ Don’t purchase CBD from any brand, online or otherwise that doesn’t have the following information on product labels:
- A batch or date code
- Suggested use
- Amount of CBD per serving
- Whether it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate
- The name of the manufacturer or distributor.
Industrial Hemp in Kentucky
Kentucky was the biggest producer of hemp in the United States throughout the 1800s and 1900s. It has the ideal climate for cultivating the crop.
The state was among the first to consider permitting hemp cultivation in the modern era. Governor Brereton Jones created a commission designed to look into the possibility of legal hemp in 1994. However, the state didn’t allow production for research purposes until the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013.
Kentucky was one of the few states that were growing hemp in 2016. The market quickly grew but 2019 was a difficult year for farmers. The state cultivated over 26,000 acres that year, but many farmers were unable to sell their produce. While almost 1,000 farmers received licenses in 2020, approximately 150 said they did not plan to grow the crop.
Hemp in Kentucky: Will It Become a Lucrative Cash Crop?
Kentucky hemp oil is regarded as among the finest in the United States. Therefore, it seemed certain that the state’s industrial hemp program would prove a major success. However, as farmers learn the harsh realities of cultivating hemp, the program has attracted far fewer interested parties than anticipated.
Research from the KDA found that the number of approved and planted acres has fallen in the last few years. In 2019, there were 978 approved growers, 60,000 approved acres, and 24,900 harvested acres. In 2010, while there were 970 approved growers, there were only 32,000 approved acres and 4,500 harvested acres! By June 2021, there were only 450 approved growers and 12,000 approved acres.
Cultivators of the crop and sellers of hemp oil in Kentucky are far from the only entities suffering. Millions of pounds of harvested hemp remain unsold across the U.S. Experts claim that the hemp boom is over already.
Many point the finger of blame at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), accusing the government agency of stifling the industry. It won’t permit the sale of CBD as a dietary supplement or food product. This is because the cannabinoid is an approved ingredient in Epidiolex, a prescription drug used to treat epilepsy in children.
Regulations are also hindering attempts to use hemp to create and sell delta-8-THC. One wonders what will happen to the hemp industry across the United States. Certainly, it is far from being the lucrative cash crop many believed.
Where to Buy CBD Oil in Kentucky
There is a huge array of vendors that sell CBD oil in Kentucky. There are CBD-specific stores, not to mention large chains such as Walgreens and Whole Foods offering it. Take a trip throughout the state, and you will surely find dozens of gas stations selling the cannabinoid.
However, you shouldn’t purchase any CBD product unless there is a third-party lab report with it. Otherwise, you have no way of knowing if the product contains less than 0.3% THC. There is also a possibility of it containing heavy metals or other chemicals. Your best bet is to try an online store. Reputable CBD brands have test results on their website, and they can deliver their products to your doorstep.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil in Kentucky
At present, the Bluegrass State doesn’t allow cannabis. Attempts to develop a medical marijuana program have stalled, and there is no way of knowing when they will resume. The possession of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor in Kentucky with possible jail time.
CBD, on the other hand, is available in Kentucky. However, it must come from hemp and contain a maximum of 0.3% THC. The state grows some of the best hemp in the United States. Many top brands such as PureKana and Premium Jane get their CBD from Kentucky-grown hemp.