Kentucky Marijuana Laws

The possession and sale of any amount of marijuana is illegal in Kentucky, and potential penalties vary by the amount possessed or sold.

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. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 218A.040; 902 Ky. Admin. Regs. 55:015 (2019).) While not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Kentucky.

Marijuana Possession in Kentucky

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. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 218A.1422, 534.040 (2019).)

Marijuana Cultivation in Kentucky

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. Penalties vary according to the violation.

  • 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, punishable by one to five years in prison, a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, 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.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 218A.1423, 532.020, 532.090, 534.030, 534.040 (2019).)

Marijuana Trafficking in Kentucky

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.

  • 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 D felonies, punishable with a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000, between one and five 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.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 218A.1411, 218A.1421, 532.020, 532.090, 534.030, 534.040 (2019).)

Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Kentucky

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. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 218A.500, 532.020, 534.040 (2019).)

Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

Medical marijuana is not legal in Kentucky. All marijuana possession, manufacture, sales, and use is criminalized in the state.

Kentucky Stamp Taxes

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. Additionally, failing to pay the required stamp tax is a class C felony. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 138.889 (2019).)

Get Legal Help

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, the law can change at any time. Only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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