Kentucky Gov Beshear Announces Lottery To Award Medical Marijuana Licenses: 'A Chance For Everyone' Who Meet Criteria, Not Just Big Companies

Zinger Key Points
  • The lottery should remove any temptation to lobby in an effort to “get a leg up in different ways that we don’t want to see,” Beshear said.
  • Kentucky will issue 48 medical marijuana retail licenses among 11 regions to ensure short drive times for those in need.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) unveiled plans on Thursday to utilize a lottery system for granting initial licenses to businesses vying for entry into the state’s medical marijuana industry.

Speaking at a press conference, Beshear called the lottery approach a fair way to give all qualifying applicants an equal opportunity to receive a license for the program, which is expected to launch in January 2025.

Set for this coming October, the lottery should remove any temptation to lobby to "get a leg up in different ways that we don't want to see," Beshear said at his weekly press conference, reported ABC News.

"It reduces or eliminates litigation, 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," Beshear said. "But one that provides at least a chance for everyone who can meet the criteria."

Kentucky will initially issue 48 medical marijuana dispensary licenses, divided among 11 regions around the state as a way of ensuring the shortest possible drive times for Kentuckians with qualifying health conditions, said Sam Flynn, executive director of the medical cannabis program.

Each region will be allocated at least four dispensary licenses. Counties will be limited to one dispensary each except for those that include Louisville and Lexington, which can have two licenses, Flynn said. Limited numbers of cultivator and processor licenses will also be issued.

Beshear said capping the number of licenses is meant to avoid flooding the market with products and exceeding demand, which would ultimately hurt businesses and patients.

"You can see this is not about having a dispensary on every corner," Beshear said. "It is a limited program that we can monitor and fulfill the promise we made of doing this safely, but also having access in each region for people that do qualify."

The program can be expanded with more businesses in the future depending on demand and whether more qualifying medical conditions are added, which Beshear has promoted.

"This is likely the minimum that you will see on the program moving forward. But again, you can always scale up. Scaling back hurts businesses, hurts people and hurts access," Beshear said. “We don't start huge. We start with a manageable program that, yes, can grow."

In March of this year, Kentucky became the 38th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana for patients with debilitating conditions.

Gov. Andy Beshear, government photo

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