Is Delta-8 THC Legal in Kentucky?

Despite what you may have heard, Kentucky lawmakers aren’t too keen on delta-8.

Delta-8 THC plant grown in Kentucky

Contrary to common belief, delta-8 THC is not entirely legal in Kentucky. According to state lawmakers, hemp-derived delta-8 is a Schedule I controlled substance, and the use, possession, sale, distribution, production, and manufacturing of delta-8 products are prohibited. Marijuana and marijuana-derived delta-8 are also illegal in Kentucky and punishable under strict state law, as are other delta-9 isomers such as delta-10, HHC, and THCP.

Is delta-8 legal in Kentucky?

  • Delta-8 THC is illegal in Kentucky.
  • The use, possession, purchase, sale, production, and manufacture of delta-8 products are prohibited and punishable under state law. 
  • Medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in Kentucky and punishable under state law. Penalties are strict. 
  • Like delta-8, delta-10, HHC, and other delta-9 isomers are illegal in Kentucky. 
  • Hemp-derived CBD is legal and available everywhere in Kentucky.

Is delta-8 THC legal in Kentucky?

No, delta-8 is not legal in Kentucky under state law, as announced by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) earlier this year. This announcement means the use, possession, sale, purchase, distribution, and production of delta-8 THC products are not permitted. 

KDA letter to hemp business holders in April 2021. Download the PDF

In regards to the legal status of delta-8 THC in Kentucky, the KDA responds that:

Delta-8 THC is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and Kentucky law; that distributing products containing this substance is illegal; and distributing such products could lead to your expulsion from the Hemp Licensing Program as well as potential exposure to criminal prosecution.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Suggested reading: Kentucky gets it wrong on delta-8 THC by Attorney Rod Kight

Legislative history of delta-8 in Kentucky

In 2018, the federal government amended the Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) and signed it into law. The Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids (including delta-8), terpenes, derivatives, isomers, and salts across the US. The bill also removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. Kentucky later aligned its hemp laws with the Farm Bill following the passage of House Bill 197 in the same year. 

Delta-8 THC edible derived from hemp

However, fast-forward to 2020 and delta-8’s federal legality was called into question, forcing 18 states to reconsider their stance on delta-8 products, many citing safety concerns over the way they’re manufactured “synthetically”. 

In April 2021, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s legal team issued a memo stating delta-8 is prohibited within the state and considers it a controlled substance, sparking outrage from delta-8 vendors operating within its borders. 

Several delta-8 vendors have also experienced police raids. The Kentucky Hemp Association is now in the process of suing the state and asking for a temporary injunction to stop further raids from happening. 

Kentucky Hemp Association letter to General Counsel Joe Bilby. Download PDF

Is medical marijuana legal in Kentucky?

No, under state law, medical marijuana is not legal in Kentucky, meaning the use, possession, sale, purchase, distribution, production, and manufacture of medical marijuana is prohibited. 

In 2015, Kentucky lawmakers proposed House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 40, both attempting to legalize medical marijuana and create a regulatory framework. Unfortunately, neither bill made it past the committee stage. 

Medical marijuana grown in Kentucky

Later, in 2020, Representative Jason Nemes of Louisville proposed House Bill 136, an important bill that aimed to legalize medical cannabis while keeping smokeable flower and at-home cannabis growing illegal. 

The bill made it through the House comfortably but stalled when the coronavirus pandemic hit. It was re-introduced in January 2022 but failed. A new version is being drafted for 2022. 

Is recreational marijuana legal in Kentucky?

No. Recreational marijuana is not legal in Kentucky under state law. The use and possession of cannabis carry strict penalties and punishments.

Possessing less than 10 oz of cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 45 days in prison and a maximum fine of $250. Possession of more than 10 oz of cannabis is considered intent to sell or traffic, carrying punishments of up to five years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. 

Buying delta-8 in Kentucky

Since hemp-derived and marijuana-derived delta-8 is currently illegal in Kentucky, you cannot legally purchase delta-8 THC products anywhere in the state. Many online delta-8 brands have stopped shipping to addresses in Kentucky. Some physical stores selling delta-8 products stopped selling them altogether. 

Related: Where is delta-8 legal?

Delta-8 vape cartridge
Delta-8 THC products are currently not legal to buy in Kentucky. Photo: CBD Oracle

Can you travel to Kentucky with delta-8?

No. You can’t legally travel to Kentucky with delta-8 in your possession. Currently, state law prohibits the use and possession of hemp and marijuana-derived delta-8 THC products. Possession of delta-8 at the state border or within the state itself might lead to trouble with law enforcement. 

Is delta-10 THC legal in Kentucky? 

No. Like delta-8, delta-10 THC is not legal in Kentucky, meaning the use, possession, sale, distribution, production, and manufacture of delta-10 products are forbidden under state law. However, there are reports of some physical retail stores selling delta-8 products. We recommend caution if you consider purchasing them. 

Where can you purchase delta-10 THC products in Kentucky?

We’re not obliged to give details on where you can purchase delta-10 THC within Kentucky since it’s not legal under state law. However, several Reddit posts outline where you can find delta-10 products in the state. Again, we advise caution here. 

Is CBD legal in Kentucky? 

Yes. Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp plants carrying no more than 0.3% THC is legal under state law and has been since 2014 following Senate Bill 124. This bill allowed a limited number of patients access to hemp-derived CBD for medicinal purposes. Later, in 2018, Kentucky lawmakers signed House Bill 197 into law, permitting statewide use, possession, cultivation, and production of hemp and hemp-derived CBD. 

Hemp-derived CBD products available for purchase in Kentucky include:

  • CBD oil
  • CBD capsules
  • CBD topicals (creams, balms, salves)
  • CBD vapes
  • CBD edibles

Is marijuana-derived CBD legal in Kentucky?

No. Marijuana-derived CBD is not legal in Kentucky. The state does not permit the use, possession, sale, distribution, production, or manufacture of marijuana products. 

Upcoming legislation in Kentucky that could change legality of delta-8 THC?

There’s currently no legislation that could change delta-8’s legality in Kentucky. Delta-8 products will remain illegal to use, possess, sell, purchase, distribute, produce and manufacture for the foreseeable future. 

Closing thoughts: The future for delta-8 in Kentucky

Kentucky’s ban on delta-8 and the resulting police raids are a low blow for delta-8 customers, vendors, and producers. Many users rely heavily on delta-8 in a state where medical and recreational cannabis is illegal. Likewise, many delta-8 vendors are now sitting on millions of dollars worth of unsellable inventory. 

Will delta-8 be legalized in the future? Will delta-8 vendors be able to get back on track and start selling delta-8 products again? The future looks bleak, but we’ll keep you posted on any developments occurring soon.