• Under the 2014 Senate Bill 124, buying and prescribing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products in Kentucky is legal(1).
  • Kentucky state laws also allow individuals to cultivate, handle, or process industrial hemp in the state(2).
  • A license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is required to grow and cultivate hemp. To be considered legal, the hemp plants must not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight.
  • There are several hemp stores in Kentucky where customers may purchase CBD products. Some of the CBD shops in the state include Green Remedy, Cannabis Phrog, and Smoker’s Heaven.

CBD is legal in Kentucky under the 2014 Senate Bill. The law marked the legalization of the use of CBD products derived from industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC(3).

Cultivating, handling, or processing industrial hemp is also legal in Kentucky under the state legislation 40 Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 218A.010(4).

Although CBD is legal in the state, marijuana laws still prohibit medical marijuana and recreational marijuana(5).

Kentucky CBD Laws

2014 Senate Bill 124

Production of hemp-derived CBD is legal in the state of Kentucky since 2014 when state legislators passed Senate Bill 124(6).

Under the law, lawmakers removed hemp from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-controlled substances list in the Bluegrass State.

The hemp plant must have less than 0.3% THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis, to be considered legal.

2014 SB124 also allowed physicians practicing at a state research hospital to recommend and prescribe hemp-derived products.

40 Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 218A.010

Under state legislature 40 Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 218A.010, Kentucky residents may possess industrial hemp as long as they have a license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA). The license legally permits individuals to cultivate, handle, or process industrial hemp(7).

The law states that CBD may be transferred, dispensed, or administered under a licensed physician’s orders at a hospital or a clinic associated with a university’s college of medicine.

Under the legislation, CBD is also legal as long as it is derived from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is defined by Kentucky state law as a hemp plant grown by a licensed individual.

CBD is also legal in the state as long as it has been approved as a prescription medication by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Licensing Requirements

The following are the steps applicants must take to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in the state legally.

  • Individuals must first determine what type of hemp they want to grow. They must know what kind of hemp fits their farm operation: grain, fiber, or floral material for CBD products.
  • They must apply for and secure a hemp grower license from the KDA.
  • Individuals must have a licensed buyer or processor for their future harvest. First-time growers may consult the KDA’s processor/handler list licensed under the state’s hemp licensing program(8).
  • They must also secure legal industrial hemp seeds or transplants. Individuals may consult KDA’s seed and transplant providers list(9)
  • Individuals must research proper crop production techniques before they begin planting their crops.

Personal applications to the state’s hemp licensing program are open for a couple of months only every year. However, applications from universities and other research institutions are accepted at any time.

Researchers from a public university or college interested in growing, processing, testing, handling, or storing industrial hemp register their projects with KDA’s program through the university/college affiliation application form(10).

In Kentucky, growing, processing, handling, and storage sites at universities and colleges must be certified and registered with the KDA. Industrial hemp production outside the state program is still illegal in the state.

Testing Requirements

KDA has a sampling and testing program to monitor hemp growers’ compliance with state and federal law. Below is the testing and sampling information gathered from KDA’s website(11).

Hemp growers must harvest hemp plants with a THC concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis to be legal.

Under the sampling and testing program, KDA may collect crop samples sent to the testing lab at the University of Kentucky for analysis.

The department has the right to test and sample all industrial hemp and other cannabis plant crops produced by any licensed hemp farmers in the state.

KDA inspects and samples all industrial hemp and other cannabis plots to be harvested. However, KDA may not test every sample.

Hemp farmers are informed of the lab test results. Under state law, the results must indicate the hemp’s THC level up to three decimal places.

If lab test results show a THC level of less than or equal to 0.399%, the hemp material is considered legal and may be allowed to market. If the THC level reaches above 0.3%, it may be labeled as a “variety of concern.” 

A hemp variety designated as a “variety of concern (VOC)” may be subject to restrictions and additional testing

Under the state hemp program, a VOC designation means any variety of hemp that tests above 0.3% THC in one or more pre-harvest samples. Hemp farmers considering whether to use these varieties in the future should practice caution since these varieties are at risk of exceeding the THC limit that might lead to the destruction of the hemp crop(12).

If the hemp plant‘s THC level is between 0.399% and 1.00%, hemp transfer is prohibited. Farmers must segregate the plant from other harvested plots. 

If the hemp is harvested for its leaves or floral material, the farmer may opt for a post-harvest sample and retest or destroy the leaves and flowers. 

If the plant is harvested for its grain, seed, or fiber, KDA must verify the destruction of all of the plot’s leaf and floral material.

If the plant’s THC level reaches more than 1.0%, KDA brands the plant as a prohibited variety and reports it to the Kentucky State Police (KSP). The owner of the sample must surrender the crops to the KDA to be destroyed(13).

KDA may also revoke the license of the farmer and ban them from future involvement in the program.

Buying CBD Legally

How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy

In Kentucky, residents may buy CBD products from all over the state as long as the product is purchased with a physician’s recommendation(14). The product must be made from industrial hemp and must contain less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal in Kentucky(15).

Kentucky has several CBD shops offering a wide range of choices of hemp-derived CBD products, including hemp oils, lotions, edibles, and tinctures.

Below is a list of vital information to remember when buying high-quality CBD products:

  • Look for third-party lab-tests. 
  • Read product reviews from other CBD users.
  • Accurate product labels that match the information from the certificate of analysis (COA).
  • Look for a detailed description of product information on the brand’s website.

Buy only from CBD shops accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which collects consumer reports to monitor business performance. BBB also awards accreditations to brands with proper business practices.

The BBB website shows that there are 10 CBD shops in the state with accreditation from the bureau. Only one of the ten shops has a recorded consumer complaint as of November 2020.

Where to Buy CBD Products Legally

In Kentucky, individuals may purchase hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC in stores and online retailers. Below are some of the stores in the state where CBD buyers may look for the best CBD products available.

Louisville

The city has two leading CBD shops: Green Remedy and A&A Smoker’s Outlet.

Green Remedy specializes as a wholesale health market providing a wide range of hemp-derived CBD products, including capsules, tinctures, additives, and skincare products.

A&A Smoker’s Outlet in Louisville, Kentucky, is a traditional vape shop that provides e-juices, hand pipes, dab kits, glass oil burners, and other vape accessories.

Bardstown

Cannabis Phrog is a dispensary that offers various health and wellness hemp products, including CBD oils, balms, lotions, and morning blends. The company is also BBB-accredited.

Lexington

JD Vapor provides a wide range of CBD products to address customer needs. The shop offers CBD oils, liquids, edibles, and wax.

Western Kentucky

Smoker’s Heaven is a dispensary in the Owensboro area that provides a wide range of products, including pipes, water pipes, cigarillos, and CBD oils

Located in Bowling Green, Vette City Vapes offers various CBD products, including CBD vaporizers, and e-juices. 

Other BBB-accredited CBD shops in Kentucky:

  1. Up N Smoke, Shepherdsville
  2. Confidential Concierge, Louisville
  3. CBD Hemp Oil, Louisville
  4. Jades of Green, Louisville
  5. 502 Hemo Wellness Center, Louisville
  6. CBD Pure Hemp Oil, Prospect
  7. Kentucky Botanical Company CBD, Florence
  8. XYZ CBD Processing, Franklin
  9. Kentucky Green Grass, Harrodsburg

Customers may also purchase CBD products at CBD-specific stores and grocers, including Whole Foods or Walgreens.

However, it is still recommended to seek advice from a medical professional before taking CBD.

History of Hemp Use in Kentucky

Kentucky used to be a large hemp oil source in the hemp industry before the then US president, Richard Nixon, declared war on drugs.

Kentucky began cultivating hemp in 1775. However, anti-cannabis propaganda resulted in the banning of hemp cultivation in the state in the late 1930s. 

Hemp farmers in the state experienced a brief reprieve in the 1940s when they were encouraged to grow hemp to prevent jute (a type of plant used to create strong threads) import from Asia.

Hemp remained illegal in the state until 2014 when state lawmakers passed the 2014 SB124, which legalized the use of hemp-derived CBD products with a THC content of less than 0.3%. 

FAQs

What Is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and the second most popular compound in the cannabis plant after THC

CBD has no psychoactive effects, while THC is responsible for producing an intoxicating high when cannabis is used.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD’s medical use is most advanced in epilepsy treatment(16)

Most CBD brands also provide disclaimers about their products on their website to follow FDA regulations.

CBD may come from either marijuana or hemp plants. However, only hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal in the United States at the federal level.

Hemp plants were decriminalized in 2018 when the then US president, Donald Trump, signed the Farm Bill(17)

Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is still banned in the state(18).

Is CBD Safe?

A report from the WHO discussed that CBD had no properties that indicate any abuse potential for humans(19).

However, many facts about CBD are still unknown. Taking CBD may also cause side effects, including dry mouth, diarrhea, changes in appetite, tiredness, and sleepiness(20).

It is recommended to consult a doctor before taking any CBD or other over-the-counter medication or supplement, especially if one has a severe medical condition.

Before using CBD, one should talk to a medical professional, as CBD might interact with other drugs in the body.

First-time CBD users should check the product label to see if they are allergic to CBD products’ ingredients. 

How Is Hemp Different From Weed?

Most people are still confused about the definition of marijuana (also called weed) and hemp because of the similarities between the two cannabis plants.

Both plants are members of the cannabis species, and most cannabinoids from weed and hemp plants are sourced from cannabis flowers. 

However, hemp and weed contain different amounts of CBD and THC. Hemp flowers, leaves, and stems have high CBD levels, while weed contains high concentrations of THC.

Conclusion

Although medical cannabis is still prohibited in Kentucky, residents may buy hemp-derived CBD in Kentucky under state laws(21)

Hemp farmers in the state must register with the KDA’s industrial hemp program. 

In Kentucky, growing industrial hemp outside of the KDA program is still banned. Possession of eight ounces of cannabis is also punishable with a misdemeanor charge(22).

Although legal under federal law, CBD is still illegal under some state laws. It is recommended that customers be informed about the legality of CBD before purchasing products. 

CBD is also still unregulated by the FDA as of 2020.


  1. Kentucky General Assembly. 2014 Regular Session. Senate Bill 124. Retrieved from https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/14rs/sb124.html
  2. Legislative Research Commission. 218A.010 Definitions for chapter. Retrieved from https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id=46889
  3. Kentucky General Assembly. Op cit.
  4. Legislative Research Commission. Op cit.
  5. Hemppedia. Is CBD legal in all 50 states? – The complete 2020 Guide. Retrieved from https://hemppedia.org/cbd-oil-legal-us/
  6. Kentucky General Assembly. Op cit.
  7. Legislative Research Commission. Op cit.
  8. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 2019 Processor/Handler List. Retrieved from 2019 Processor/Handler List
  9. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 2020 Seed and Transplant Providers List. Retrieved from https://www.kyagr.com/marketing/documents/HEMP_OV_2019_Seed_and_Transplant_Providers_List_7.18.19.pdf
  10. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 2019 University/College Affiliation Application Packet. Retrieved from https://www.kyagr.com/marketing/documents/HEMP_APP_UNIVERSITY_FINAL-fillable.pdf
  11. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Hemp Program. Procedures for Sampling, THC Testing, and Post-Testing Actions. Retrieved from https://www.kyagr.com/marketing/documents/HEMP_LH_Procedures_for_Sampling_THC-Testing_and_Post-Testing_Actions.pdf
  12. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Hemo Program: Summary of Varieties: Including Varieties of Concern and Prohibited Varieties. Retrieved from https://www.kyagr.com/marketing/documents/HEMP_LH_Summary_of_Varieties_List.pdf
  13. Ibid
  14. Legislative Research Commission. Op cit.
  15. Kentucky General Assembly. Op cit.
  16. World Health Organization. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report, (2018). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
  17. US Department of Agriculture. Farm Bill. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/farmbill
  18. Hemppedia. Op cit.
  19. Grinspoon, P. (2018) Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  20. Mayo Clinic. Consumer Health. CBD: Safe and Effective? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  21. Kentucky General Assembly. Op cit.
  22. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Kentucky Laws and Penalties. Retrieved from https://norml.org/laws/kentucky-penalties-2/
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