Kentucky Association of Counties

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Kentucky Association of Counties


County Champion


Frequently asked questions about medical cannabis and county government

Tim Sturgill, KACo General Counsel
Options and guidance for counties to consider

Updated May 10, 2024

1. What is Kentucky’s medical cannabis law?

The provisions of Kentucky’s medical cannabis law can be found in KRS Chapter 218B. This statute was amended by HB 829 during the 2024 legislative session.


2. When will the dispensing of medical cannabis for authorized prescriptions be legal in Kentucky?

Jan. 1, 2025


3. When can medical cannabis businesses begin operating in Kentucky? 

The Cabinet for Health & Family Services (Cabinet) will open its license application period on July 1, 2024. Once licensed, a business may begin operating as early as this year, however, it cannot open to the public and products cannot be made available to prescribers until Jan. 1, 2025.


4. What types of businesses will be licensed?

  • Cultivator– responsible for planting, raising, harvesting, trimming and curing raw plant material in an indoor facility.
  • Processor– responsible for processing and packaging raw plant material into usable product formats. Current state law does not allow these products to be smokable.
  • Producer*– responsible for both growing and processing raw plant material. (The Cabinet is not accepting applications for this license type at this time.)
  • Safety compliance facility– responsible for contamination and purity testing.
  • Dispensary – responsible for purchasing and selling finished products to medical cannabis cardholders. 


5. How many medical cannabis business licenses will the state issue?

The state will begin accepting business license applications on July 1, 2024 and issue licenses in the fall.

The categories and number of cannabis business licenses available for issuance by the Cabinet are as follows:

  • Tier I Cultivator: 10
  • Tier II Cultivator: 4
  • Tier III Cultivator: 2
  • Processor: 10
  • Dispensary: 48

Dispensary licenses will be issued within designated medical cannabis regions (map). There are eleven medical cannabis regions across the state and the Cabinet will issue at least four dispensary licenses per region. 

  • At least six dispensary licenses will be issued in the Bluegrass region, two of which could be issued in Fayette County.
  • At least six dispensary licenses will be issued in the Kentuckiana region, two of which could be issued in Jefferson County.
  • Except for Fayette and Jefferson County, no more than one dispensary license will be issued per county.

Raw plant material, edibles, oils, tinctures and vapes are the allowable medical cannabis products that can be sold in Kentucky effective Jan. 1, 2025. State law prohibits the consumption of medical cannabis by smoking.


7. What can local governments do regarding medical cannabis?

A county and/or city could:

  • Take no action. Medical cannabis businesses would be allowed to operate in that county or city as early as this year once it is licensed by the state.
  • Pass an ordinance to prohibit cannabis operations.
  • Pass a resolution to put the matter of cannabis operations to a public vote.
  • Place restrictions and/or collect fees related to cannabis businesses operating within that county or city.


8. My county wants to prohibit medical cannabis businesses. What does the fiscal court need to do?

State law allows local governments to pass an ordinance by Dec. 31, 2024 to prohibit all types of medical cannabis operations. A sample ordinance can be found here.

Counties/cities must notify the Cabinet in writing within five days after passage. This notice can be emailed to Sam Flynn, Executive Director of the Medical Cannabis Program, at

Given the significant amount of planning and capital investment prospective businesses must undertake to meet state licensing requirements, counties and cities should considering making their decision regarding any prohibition, regulation or zoning of cannabis businesses by June 30, 2024 – prior to the Cabinet issuing any business license.

Counties and cities may be unable to enact a prohibition after Dec. 31, 2024 if the Cabinet has previously issued a license for a business in the jurisdiction.


9. Can my county opt-out/prohibit a particular type of medical cannabis business (only dispensaries, for example)?

No. If a county/city passes an ordinance to prohibit medical cannabis businesses from operating in that jurisdiction, the ordinance would apply to all types of cannabis-related businesses.


10. What happens if a county passes an ordinance to prohibit medical cannabis businesses?

If a county passes a prohibition ordinance, cannabis businesses would be prohibited from operating anywhere in the county, including both the unincorporated and incorporated areas, unless a city takes further action of its own.

Cities within the county may still pass their own ordinance to authorize those businesses within the corporate city limits or place the issue on the ballot for voters to decide.

Citizens of that county could overturn a prohibition ordinance by filing a petition with the county clerk. If the petition gathers a sufficient number of signatures, the question of whether to allow the sale of medical cannabis would be put to a vote during the next regular election.


11. If a city passes an ordinance to prohibit medical cannabis businesses, what does that mean for the county?

If a city passes a prohibition ordinance but the county does not, cannabis businesses would still be allowed to operate in the unincorporated areas of the county, but not within the boundaries of the city.


12. My county wants to put the matter to a vote of the people. What do we need to do?

A county and/or city may pass a resolution to allow the voters to decide if they are in favor of allowing cannabis businesses to operate in the boundaries of the county or city. The resolution must be received by the county clerk by the second Tuesday in August before the regular election to be on the ballot for that election. 

For the question to be on the 2024 regular election ballot, the county clerk would have to receive the resolution on or before Aug. 13, 2024 for the question to be included on the ballot this year. A sample resolution to place the question on the ballot can be found here. 

The question that would appear on the ballot reads:

“Are you in favor of the sale of medicinal cannabis at a licensed dispensary and the operation of other cannabis businesses in (affected territory)? Yes... No...”


13. Can my county regulate where a medical cannabis business is located? 

According to state law, cannabis businesses may not be located within one thousand (1,000) feet of an existing elementary school, secondary school or daycare center. Counties/cities may place other restrictions via planning and zoning. The Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program Zoning Tool can be found here. Note that the tool is intended for informational purposes only and relying on this tool alone to determine compliance with KRS 218B.095 (2) (a) is not encouraged or recommended.


14. Can a county enact local regulations and fees on the cannabis business?

Yes. A county or city may enact ordinances relating to the time, place, and manner of cannabis business operations. These regulations shall not impose an “undue burden” on the cannabis business operation.

County and cities may also assess local fees to compensate for any additional costs caused by the operation of cannabis businesses. If both the county and city allow for the operation of cannabis businesses, and the business is located within city limits, the fee must be shared between the county and the city in a manner that is negotiated/established between the local governments.


15. What does law enforcement need to know about medical cannabis in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program is currently working on a guide for law enforcement officers that will have input from the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Kentucky State Police and the Department for Criminal Justice Training.


16. Where can I learn more about the Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program?

Visit The Kentucky Medical Cannabis Program website includes additional information relevant to patients, medical providers and prospective businesses.



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