Kentucky Marijuana Laws

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Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In Kentucky, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical value. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.050.) While not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Kentucky.

For information about charges and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Kentucky, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Kentucky.

Marijuana Possession

It is a crime to possess any amount marijuana (including small amounts for personal use) in Kentucky. Violations are a class B misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $250, up to 45 days in jail, or both. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.1422.)  

Learn more about common crimes in Kentucky.

Cultivation

It is illegal to cultivate marijuana plants, in Kentucky. This includes planting, cultivating, or harvesting marijuana with the intent to sell or transfer it. A person who possesses five or more plants is presumed to be cultivating with the intent to sell. With four or fewer plants, the prosecutor must prove that the offender had the intent to sell marijuana, otherwise, the offender will be convicted only of possession (described above). Penalties vary according to the violation. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.1423.)  

  • Four or fewer plants. A first offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable with a fine of up to $500, up to 12 months in jail, or both. Second and subsequent offenses are class D felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between one and five years in prison, or both.
  • Five or more plants.  A first offense is a class D felony. Second and subsequent offenses are class C felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.

Trafficking

Trafficking includes processing or selling marijuana (or possessing with the intent to do so). Trafficking in marijuana is illegal in Kentucky, and penalties vary according to the violation. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.1421.)  

  • Up to eight ounces. A first offense is a class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $500, up to 12 months in jail, or both. Second and subsequent offenses are class C felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.
  • Between eight ounces and five pounds. A first offense is a class D felony, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between one and five years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent offenses are class C felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.
  • Five pounds or more. A first offense is a class C felony, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between five and ten years in prison, or both.  Second and subsequent offenses are class B felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between ten and 20 years in prison, or both.
  • Trafficking on or within 1,000 feet of a school building. A violation is a class D felony, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between one and five years in prison, or both. However, if the violation carries a harsher penalty (for example, trafficking five pounds of marijuana, which is a class C felony), the harsher penalty will apply. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.1411.)  

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in Kentucky to possess or distribute drug paraphernalia (or manufacture or possess paraphernalia with the intent to distribute it). It is also illegal for someone to advertise items that the person knows (or should know) are designed or intended to be used as drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. A violation of any of these laws is a class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $500, up to 12 months in jail, or both. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.500.)   

Does Kentucky Allow Medical Marijuana Use?

No. All marijuana possession, manufacture, sales, and use is criminalized in Kentucky.

Does Kentucky Impose a Stamp Tax on Marijuana?

Yes. A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.

In Kentucky, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into the state are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes plus interest. (Ken. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 138.889.)

Learn more about Kentucky Drug Laws.

The Value of Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

by: , Contributing Author

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