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Kentucky  cannabis consultants


Cannabis Consultant Insights

Intro to Kentucky Medical Cannabis
Medical Cannabis Business License Overview by Cannabis Consultants
Comprehensive Guide to Types of Cannabis Licenses in Kentucky
License Allocations for Kentucky Medical Cannabis Businesses
Process for Cannabis Business License Applications in Kentucky
Fees for Kentucky Medical Cannabis Business Licenses
Qualifications for Applying for a Cannabis Business License in Kentucky
License Application Requirements in Kentucky
Limitations on Operating Cannabis Business in Kentucky
Market Competitiveness Analysis for Kentucky's Medical Cannabis Industry
SWOT Analysis of Kentucky Medical Cannabis Market
Role of Cann Strategy as Your Cannabis Business Consulting Firm
Introduction to Kentucky Medical Cannabis Licensing and Business

Welcome to the wild world of Kentucky's burgeoning medical cannabis market, where history, legislation, and opportunity intertwine to create a unique business landscape. Kentucky has had a tumultuous journey towards cannabis legalization, marked by many failed attempts and legislative setbacks. In April 2014, Governor Steve Beshear signed a law allowing patients to use CBD products for epilepsy treatment under clinical trials at the University of Kentucky. However, this law did not include provisions for the legal production or sale of CBD. Fast forward to the 2020 legislative session, House Bill 136—a bill for medical cannabis—passed in the House but failed to progress in the Senate, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting legislative activities.

Despite these setbacks, the persistence of advocates and the overwhelming support from Kentuckians—90% in favor of medical cannabis—finally paid off. In 2023, medical cannabis was legalized, allowing patients with qualifying conditions like cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, and PTSD to access medical marijuana. The new law does not permit the inhalation of cannabis flower but allows for the sale of unprocessed flower for vaporization, as well as capsules, tinctures, and topicals. The medical cannabis program is set to launch by January 2025, marking a significant milestone for the state.

The Kentucky cannabis business license application process is meticulously detailed, ensuring a robust regulatory framework. Applicants can begin submitting their applications starting July 1, 2024, following the administrative regulations filed on April 18, 2024. These regulations, along with the business regulations established by Senate Bill 47 and codified in KRS Chapter 218B, provide comprehensive guidelines for cultivators, processors, producers, dispensaries, and safety compliance facilities. Businesses must navigate a series of steps, including criminal background checks for key personnel, adhering to facility requirements, and ensuring compliance with detailed packaging, labeling, and testing protocols.

While the medical cannabis market in Kentucky offers promising opportunities, it also comes with certain limitations. Applicants can only apply for one type of business license and must choose their operational focus carefully. Multiple dispensary licenses are permissible, but only one can be applied for in each jurisdiction. Additionally, operating in a medical cannabis market restricts customer availability to licensed medical cannabis patients, which, combined with Kentucky's below-average median household income, may limit market size and revenue potential. Despite these constraints, the potential economic benefits are significant.


If Kentucky were to follow in the footsteps of other states with operational cannabis markets, the state could generate an estimated $100 million to $150 million in annual sales, based on average per capita sales in legalized states. The introduction of medical cannabis businesses is poised to stimulate local economies, create jobs, and provide much-needed tax revenue. For instance, California's mature cannabis market now generates over $1 billion annually in tax revenue, with states collectively reporting approximately $18 billion from recreational and medical cannabis sales to date.

Medical Cannabis Business License Overview by Cannabis Consultants

At Cann Strategy Cannabis Business Consultants, we specialize in guiding entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives through the complex process of applying for cannabis business licenses across the country. With the upcoming medical cannabis licensing process in Kentucky starting on July 1, 2024, and closing on August 31, 2024, our team is dedicated to assisting applicants in navigating this critical period. We have crafted a comprehensive guide to the application process and provided a detailed business analysis of the Kentucky cannabis market. This valuable resource is designed to help you understand the requirements and opportunities ahead, ensuring your application stands out and your business is well-positioned for success.

Comprehensive Guide to Types of Cannabis Licenses in Kentucky

In Kentucky's evolving medical cannabis industry, various licenses are available to ensure the safe and regulated cultivation, processing, and distribution of medical cannabis products. Each license type plays a distinct and vital role in the medical cannabis supply chain, from cultivation to consumer access. Understanding the specific functions and authorizations of each license type is crucial for businesses and individuals looking to engage in Kentucky's medical cannabis market. Below, we provide a concise overview of the different types of licenses available, detailing the responsibilities and authorizations associated with each.

A cultivator license authorizes its holder to grow medical cannabis (also known as raw plant material) in an enclosed, locked facility. Cultivators are responsible for cultivating and harvesting the cannabis plants that are used to create safe, accessible medical cannabis products in Kentucky. They can sell their harvested medical cannabis to licensed medical cannabis processors, producers, or dispensaries within the state.


Cultivator Tiers

Tier I 2,500 sqft or less

Tier II 10,000 sqft or less

Tier III 25,000 sqft or less

Tier IV 50,000 sqft or less

A processor license allows its holder to process raw plant material into medical cannabis products at their licensed premises in Kentucky. Processors transform medical cannabis through extraction and other methods to develop various products tailored for the medical-use cannabis market. This includes creating oils, edibles, tinctures, and other forms of medical cannabis.

A producer license authorizes its holder to both grow and process raw plant material. Producers are involved in the entire lifecycle of medical cannabis, from cultivation to processing, ensuring a seamless production of medical cannabis products.

Safety Compliance Facility
A safety compliance facility license permits its holder to test samples of medical cannabis received from licensed cannabis businesses. These facilities ensure that all medical cannabis products comply with the stringent testing requirements outlined in 915 KAR 1:110. Safety compliance facilities play a crucial role in verifying that medical cannabis products intended for sale in Kentucky are safe for consumer use.

A dispensary license authorizes its holder to sell medical cannabis products from their licensed premises directly to registered qualified patients, designated caregivers, and visiting qualified patients. Dispensaries are required to sell only medical cannabis that has passed all necessary tests and has been acquired from other licensed cannabis businesses. They serve as the primary point of access for patients seeking medical cannabis in Kentucky.

License Allocations for Kentucky Medical Cannabis Businesses

Kentucky is taking a cautious and controlled approach to its medical cannabis market by limiting the number of licenses available for various types of cannabis businesses. To ensure a fair and transparent process, the state will issue these licenses through a lottery selection system. This method is designed to manage market entry and prevent monopolization, while providing opportunities for a diverse range of applicants. With only 48 dispensary licenses, 10 processor licenses, 10 Tier I cultivator licenses, 4 Tier II cultivator licenses, and 2 Tier III cultivator licenses available, competition is expected to be intense. No licenses are currently available for production or Tier IV cultivation, further highlighting the state's measured approach to market development.

  • Dispensary Licenses: 48 available

  • Processor Licenses: 10 available

  • Tier I Cultivator Licenses: 10 available

  • Tier II Cultivator Licenses: 4 available

  • Tier III Cultivator Licenses: 2 available

  • Production Licenses: 0 available

  • Tier IV Cultivator Licenses: 0 available

Qualifications for Kentucky Cannabis Business Applicants

To apply for a cannabis business license in Kentucky, several qualifications must be met. A criminal background check must be conducted on each person seeking to become a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee before they begin work. Anyone convicted of a disqualifying felony offense or under 21 years of age cannot be employed, accepted as a volunteer, or hold positions as a board member, principal officer, or agent. Applicants cannot hold management roles or financial interests in safety compliance facilities.


Furthermore, applicants must meet all qualifications for licensure, including facility requirements, as outlined in 915 KAR 1:010E, 915 KAR 1:020E, and 915 KAR 1:030. Applications are restricted to one cannabis business type at a time; for instance, an applicant cannot apply for both a cultivator and a dispensary license simultaneously. Additionally, applicants may submit only one license application per cultivator license tier, and only one dispensary license per region, provided each application specifies a distinct physical address for the proposed cannabis business operation.

Process for Cannabis Business License Applications in Kentucky

All cannabis business applications are thoroughly reviewed by the Program. Applicants will have the opportunity to address any deficiencies identified by the Program. The application and review process will adhere to the following timeline:

Application Submission
Upon submission of an application and required documentation via the online application portal, the Program will acknowledge receipt within fifteen (15) calendar days.

Application Review
The Program will review each application for completeness. Applicants will receive written notice of any deficiencies, errors, or missing information found during the review. Additionally, the Program will notify applicants when an application is deemed complete.

Curing of Deficiencies
If deficiencies are noted, the applicant has ten (10) calendar days from the notification date to address the issues and provide the requested information or documentation. Corrections or additional materials should be submitted through the same application on the licensing portal.

Acceptance or Denial
The Program will inform applicants of the approval or denial of their application within forty-five (45) days of receiving a complete application. If denied, applicants will receive a written notice detailing their right to request an administrative hearing within thirty (30) calendar days from the notice mailing date.

Fees for Kentucky Medical Cannabis Business Licenses
License Application Fee
Due at time of submission of Kentucky medical cannabis business license application
  • Tier I cultivator: $3,000;

  • Tier II cultivator: $10,000;

  • Tier III cultivator: $20,000;

  • Tier IV cultivator: $30,000;

  • Processor: $5,000;

  • Producer: $5,000 plus the applicable cultivator tier application fee;

  • Dispensary: $5,000; and

  • Safety Compliance Facility: $3,000.

Annual License  Fee

Due within 15 days of license award and due on an annual basis thereafter

  • Tier I cultivator: $12,000;

  • Tier II cultivator: $25,000;

  • Tier III cultivator: $50,000;

  • Tier IV cultivator: $100,000;

  • Processor: $15,000;

  • Producer: $15,000 plus the applicable cultivator tier annual renewal fee;

  • Dispensary: $15,000; and

  • Safety compliance facility: $12,000.

Kentucky Medical Cannabis Business License Application Requirements


Basic Information

  • Business Details

    • Legal name, business type, DBA name, mailing address.

    • Federal tax identification number.

    • Website (if applicable), email address, phone number.

    • Confirmation of registration with the Kentucky Secretary of State.

  • License Type Requested

    • Tier I cultivator

    • Tier II cultivator

    • Tier III cultivator

    • Tier IV cultivator

    • Processor

    • Producer

    • Dispensary

    • Safety compliance facility

  • Formation Documents

    • Articles of incorporation

    • Articles of organization

    • Bylaws

    • Operating Agreement


Location and Facilities

  • Proposed Location (Must be more than 1,000 feet away from any surrounding school or daycare)

    • Physical address and GPS coordinates.

    • Documentation proving authority to use the location (contingent agreement, deed, or lease).

    • Site plan of the proposed business.

    • Use the Zoning Tool

    • Select from the Jurisdictions (dispensaries only*)


Personnel Information

  • Principal Officers and Board Members

  • Name, address, date of birth, curriculum vitae or resume.

  • Additional information as required by the cabinet.

  • Ownership Disclosure

  • Individuals or entities with at least 10% ownership interest.

  • Parent companies or individuals with ownership interests.

  • Organizational structure document.

  • Financial Supporters

  • Names and addresses of financial supporters not involved in daily operations.

  • Medical Professionals Involvement

  • Names and addresses of physicians or advanced practice registered nurses with an interest in the business.

  • Criminal History Disclosure

  • Felony convictions for principal officers or board members.

  • Business History Disclosure

  • Instances where businesses managed by board members faced convictions or fines.

 Operational Capability

  • Experience and Compliance History

  • Experience in operating businesses within or outside Kentucky.

  • History with similar licenses in other jurisdictions including disciplinary actions.

  • Role Descriptions

  • Duties and responsibilities for all principal officers, board members, employees, and financial interest holders not involved in day-to-day operations.

  • Operational Timeline

Financial Plan & Capital Requirements

  • Budget, cash flow planning, debt management.

  • Documentation of sufficient capital based on license type:

    • Tier I cultivator: $50,000

    • Tier II cultivator: $200,000

    • Tier III cultivator: $500,000

    • Tier IV cultivator: $1,000,000

    • Processor: $150,000

    • Producer: $150,000 plus the applicable cultivator amount

    • Dispensary: $150,000

    • Safety compliance facility: $150,000

Plan of Operation Summary

  • Security measures.

  • Employee qualifications and training.

  • Transportation logistics for medicinal cannabis.

  • Storage, labeling, inventory management.

  • Record keeping and diversion prevention strategies.

  • Workforce development plans.


Compliance and Attestations

  • Primary Contact Information

  • Management Service Agreements

  • Notarized Signature Page

  • Attestation Statements

  • Proximity to schools/daycare centers (within 1,000 feet).

  • Continuous capital maintenance for license term.

  • Compliance with security measures to prevent illegal conduct.

  • Adherence to Kentucky statutes KRS Chapter 218B and 915 KAR Chapter 1.

  • Consent for information verification by relevant agencies.

  • Payment of license fee within fifteen calendar days upon notification if issued a license.

  • Criminal background checks before employment or board appointment; age restrictions (21+ years).

  • Consent to inspections as deemed necessary by regulatory authorities.

  • Diversion prevention protocols to ensure products are only distributed to registered patients.

  • Adherence to product labeling and packaging requirements.

  • Maintenance of an online inventory system to facilitate monitoring and reporting.

  • Prompt reporting of any security breaches or violations to the appropriate authorities.

  • Implementation of a comprehensive training program for employees, covering topics such as patient confidentiality and responsible cannabis handling.

  • Commitment to community engagement, including educational programs and outreach initiatives.

  • Ongoing compliance monitoring and regular internal audits to ensure adherence to regulations.

  • By submitting this application, we affirm that all information provided is accurate and complete. We understand that any false statements or omissions may result in the denial or revocation of our license. We further acknowledge that obtaining a medical cannabis license does not exempt us from complying with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Limitations on Operating Cannabis Business in Kentucky

Operating a cannabis business in Kentucky comes with several limitations. First, applicants can only apply for one type of business license, meaning they must choose between roles such as cultivator, processor, or dispensary operator. While it is permissible to apply for multiple dispensary licenses, applications are restricted to one per available jurisdiction, preventing any single entity from monopolizing the market within a specific area.

Moreover, Kentucky's medical cannabis market limits the customer base to licensed medical cannabis patients, which restricts broader consumer access. This limitation necessitates a focus on catering specifically to the medical needs and compliance requirements of these patients. Additionally, the socioeconomic standing of Kentucky's population can pose challenges. Kentucky has a diverse population of approximately 4.5 million people, with a median household income below the national average. Economic disparities may affect the affordability and accessibility of medical cannabis for many residents, potentially limiting the market size and growth opportunities for cannabis businesses.

Competitiveness Analysis of Kentucky Medical Cannabis Industry

The medical cannabis market in Kentucky is poised to be competitive due to several factors, including the population size, market scope, tourism, and the limited number of available licenses. This analysis provides a professional outlook for investors and entrepreneurs entering the market as cannabis business owners.

Population and Market Size

Kentucky has a population of approximately 4.5 million people. The medical cannabis market is limited to patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, and PTSD. The number of potential medical cannabis patients is a subset of the total population, which will inherently limit the customer base. This restriction means businesses must focus on delivering high-quality products and services to a niche market.

Licensing Constraints

The limited number of licenses available during the July 1 - August 31 application period adds a significant competitive element. Only 48 dispensary licenses, 10 processor licenses, 10 Tier I cultivator licenses, 4 Tier II cultivator licenses, and 2 Tier III cultivator licenses will be issued. The absence of Tier IV cultivator and production licenses further tightens the market. This scarcity of licenses will drive competition among applicants, with businesses needing to demonstrate strong operational plans, financial stability, and compliance readiness to secure a license.

Tourism Impact

Kentucky attracts over 70 million tourists annually, which could provide an additional customer base for medical cannabis dispensaries, particularly if they are located in high-traffic areas. However, since the market is limited to medical cannabis, only those tourists who are licensed medical cannabis patients in their home states and meet Kentucky’s reciprocity requirements (if applicable) can purchase medical cannabis products. This limits the potential tourist market impact compared to a recreational cannabis market.

Economic Considerations

Kentucky's median household income is below the national average, which may affect the affordability and accessibility of medical cannabis for residents. This economic factor could influence market demand and pricing strategies, requiring businesses to balance affordability with profitability.

Competitive Landscape

Given the limited number of licenses, the initial market will be highly competitive. Businesses that secure licenses early will have the first-mover advantage, allowing them to establish brand recognition and customer loyalty. These early entrants will also have the opportunity to refine their operations and build a strong market presence before additional licenses are issued in future phases.

Investment and Business Strategy

For investors and entrepreneurs, the key to success in Kentucky’s medical cannabis market will be a robust business strategy that includes:

  • Thorough Market Research: Understanding the specific needs and preferences of Kentucky’s medical cannabis patients.

  • Compliance and Quality Assurance: Ensuring strict adherence to regulatory requirements and maintaining high product quality standards.

  • Strategic Location Selection: Choosing locations that maximize accessibility for medical cannabis patients, including potential tourist traffic where applicable.

  • Financial Planning: Demonstrating financial stability and planning for initial high setup costs and ongoing operational expenses.

  • Marketing and Customer Engagement: Building strong marketing strategies to educate and attract patients, emphasizing the benefits and availability of medical cannabis products.

SWOT Analysis of Kentucky Medical Cannabis Market

While the medical cannabis business market in Kentucky presents substantial opportunities for economic growth and healthcare innovation, it also faces significant challenges related to regulatory compliance, market limitations, and socioeconomic factors. Strategic planning, robust regulatory adherence, and community engagement will be crucial for businesses looking to succeed in this emerging market.


  • Regulatory Framework: The establishment of a legal framework for medical cannabis provides a clear structure for businesses to operate within, ensuring regulatory compliance and industry standards.

  • Healthcare Integration: With medical cannabis being integrated into the healthcare system, there is an opportunity to collaborate with healthcare providers to offer alternative treatments for qualifying conditions.

  • First-Mover Advantage: Early entrants into the market can establish strong brand recognition and customer loyalty, positioning themselves as leaders in the industry.

  • Economic Development: The introduction of medical cannabis businesses can stimulate local economies through job creation, tax revenues, and ancillary business growth.


  • Limited Market Size: The restriction to medical cannabis limits the customer base to licensed medical cannabis patients, which can constrain market growth and revenue potential.

  • Socioeconomic Challenges: Kentucky's median household income is below the national average, potentially limiting the affordability and accessibility of medical cannabis for many residents.

  • High Initial Costs: The cost of obtaining licenses, setting up compliant facilities, and meeting regulatory requirements can be prohibitively high for new businesses.

  • Stigma and Misconceptions: There may still be societal stigma and misconceptions about cannabis use, which can affect market acceptance and patient willingness to seek medical cannabis treatment.


  • Expanding Medical Conditions: As more medical conditions become eligible for treatment with medical cannabis, the potential patient base can grow, expanding market opportunities.

  • Research and Development: There is significant potential for R&D in developing new cannabis-based treatments and products, positioning Kentucky as a leader in medical cannabis innovation.

  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Opportunities exist to form partnerships with universities, research institutions, and healthcare providers to enhance the credibility and efficacy of medical cannabis products.

  • Economic Revitalization: The medical cannabis market can contribute to revitalizing rural and economically distressed areas through agricultural and business development.


  • Federal Legal Uncertainty: Despite state legalization, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, posing legal and financial risks for businesses, including banking restrictions and potential federal enforcement actions.

  • Competitive Landscape: As the market grows, increased competition from both within Kentucky and neighboring states can pressure pricing and market share.

  • Regulatory Changes: Future changes in state or federal regulations could impact business operations, compliance costs, and market stability.

  • Public Health Concerns: Potential public health issues, such as misuse or adverse effects of medical cannabis, could lead to stricter regulations or negative public perception, affecting market growth.

Support from Industry Professionals: Cann Strategy as Your Cannabis Consulting Firm

Operating a cannabis business takes a lot of work. Cann Strategy is a cannabis consulting firm that helps supercharge the process to get that work done. Our suite of services is tailored specifically for the needs of cannabis businesses, focusing on establishing strong operational foundations and expanding upon them in myriad ways for business success. Winning the license is just the first step. Operations, business planning, and intelligent strategy development and implementation are where the success happens, and that's what Cann Strategy is here for.


Ready to navigate the complexities of the Kentucky medical cannabis licensing process with confidence? Partner with Cann Strategy and leverage our expertise to ensure your business not only secures its license but thrives in the competitive market. From application submission to operational excellence, our dedicated team provides comprehensive support every step of the way. Join forces with Cann Strategy and turn your cannabis business aspirations into a successful reality. Let’s build your future in Kentucky’s medical cannabis industry together

Book a free call with one of our consultants.

Contact us to discuss Kentucky cannabis business consulting services.

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