March 27, 2023 | Drug Crimes
Marijuana laws across the country are confusing, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Bluegrass State. Whereas some states have adopted laws that tolerate marijuana possession, Kentucky remains one of a few states with laws that criminalize most types of marijuana possession.
Adding to the confusion, Kentucky’s governor recently announced an executive action permitting Kentuckians suffering from certain long-term, terminal conditions to possess a small amount of legally prescribed marijuana.
Possession of Marijuana Continues to Be Illegal
As of 2023, despite various legislative efforts, it remains illegal for anyone to possess any amount of marijuana for recreational use. If the marijuana possessed is less than eight ounces in quantity, the offense is a misdemeanor. Otherwise, the offense can be charged with a more severe penalty.
Unlike some other states, there is no provision in Kentucky law to treat some possession offenses as civil violations. Even a first-time possession case could result in the imposition of a fine, jail sentence, or term of probation.
Sale and Trafficking Also Prohibited in All Cases
Not only is it illegal to possess any quantity of marijuana, but it is also illegal to sell or distribute any amount of the drug.
Selling or distributing does not require proof that you made a profit on the sale or that you exchanged the marijuana for anything of value. You could be hit with a distribution charge if you are caught gifting marijuana to a friend or family member.
The governor has allowed those with a valid prescription for medical marijuana who meet other qualifications to possess small amounts of medical marijuana. However, this still does not allow one person to distribute marijuana to the person with the prescription unless the person is the prescription holder’s caregiver.
For example, say your relative has a valid prescription for medical marijuana and asks you to bring him some per the governor’s executive order. Unless you are your relative’s caregiver, doing so could mean violating the state’s prohibition on sale and trafficking.
Kentucky’s Medical Marijuana Exception
Kentucky does not have a medical marijuana exception enshrined in its statutes. Instead, effective January 1, 2023, an executive order gives pardons to individuals charged with marijuana possession and who meet the following requirements:
- The marijuana was purchased in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, or West Virginia
- There is written proof of purchase indicating where the marijuana was bought
- The amount of marijuana on hand is less than eight ounces
- The possessor (or the caregiver of a possessor) has certifiable documentation of one of twenty qualifying medical conditions
Some legislators are challenging the enforceability of this executive order because it is not a statute signed into law by the governor and because it renders the possession statute void in certain situations.
Delta-8 THC Is Legal in Kentucky
A Kentucky court has ruled that Delta-8, a chemical compound containing amounts of THC lower than those found in marijuana, is legal. A separate executive order signed by the governor seeks to regulate the sale and distribution of the substance.
Getting Legal Help with a Marijuana Charge in Kentucky
Those who live in or travel through Kentucky should remember that, in general, possessing any quantity of marijuana in Kentucky is a marijuana crime. Those with certain medical conditions who meet specific criteria may possess small amounts, but all others possessing any amount of marijuana may be risking drug crime charges.
If you are charged with a marijuana offense, a drug offense attorney can review your situation and advise you of any defenses you might have to the charge. Even if you are not a medical marijuana user, various defenses may be available to mitigate the charges. Contact Suhre Law today to schedule a free consultation.
Contact the Lexington Drug Crimes Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Lexington
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507