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State lottery to decide what businesses will be granted licenses to process, sell medical cannabis in Kentucky

Stock image of cannabis leaves
Stock image of cannabis leaves

A state lottery will decide what businesses will be granted licenses to produce and sell medical cannabis. The system was announced during Governor Beshear’s regular media briefing Thursday.

It comes as Beshear signed House Bill 829 into law Wednesday. The law moves up the licensing process’ start date to July 1, six months before medical cannabis is legalized in January. It also creates the Office of Medical Cannabis to oversee the program.

Beshear announced the system during his regular media briefing Thursday, and explained why it’s in place.

“It reduces or eliminates litigation,” Beshear said. “And it creates a more fair process, not one where people bid against each other, and only then the big companies can be a part of it, but one that provides at least a chance for everyone who can meet the criteria.”

Dispensary licenses will be split mostly evenly through eleven regions, with four available for each region. The state’s two biggest regions – Kentuckiana and the Bluegrass Region – are the exception and will have six.

There is also a limit of one dispensary for each county, except for Jefferson and Fayette, which will have two.

“These regions were developed in conjunction with a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Commonwealth Office of Technology to ensure that Kentuckians with qualifying conditions like cancer and PTSD have the shortest possible drive time to the medical cannabis dispensary nearest them,” Medical Cannabis Program Executive Director Sam Flynn said during the briefing.

Ten licenses will be made available for processors, sixteen licenses for cultivators and 48 licenses for dispensaries in total.

Businesses can apply for licenses from July 1 to August 31. The first lottery is scheduled for October.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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