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How Many Medical Cannabis Business Licenses Is Kentucky Issuing?

Cannabis industry regulators are currently accepting applications for medical cannabis business licenses in Kentucky. On March 31st, 2023, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 47 into law. The measure legalized medical cannabis in Kentucky, effective January 1st, 2025.

According to local reporting by WDRB, there will be four types of licenses available:

  • Cultivator: responsible for planting, raising, harvesting, trimming and curing raw plant material
  • Processor: responsible for processing and packaging raw plant material into usable product formats
  • Safety compliance facility: responsible for contamination and purity testing of raw plant material and products
  • Dispensary: responsible for purchasing and selling finished products to cardholders

Per initial local coverage by WHAS11, cultivators “will be competing for a total of 16 cultivation licenses for facilities of various sizes” and “ten processor licenses will be available, as well as 48 licenses for dispensaries.”

The media outlet projects that between 70,000 and 90,000 patients will register for the Kentucky medical cannabis program. The pursuit of licenses will involve a series of fees, as recapped in recent coverage by international law and analysis firm Dentons.

“The application fee depends on the type of cannabis license that you’re applying for. The initial license application fees for a Tier I cultivator is $3,000, for a Tier 2 cultivator, it’s $10,000, for a Tier 3 cultivator, it’s $20,000. In this round, they’re not going to be issuing any Tier 4 cultivator licenses, but that application fee will be $30,000 whenever they choose to issue those licenses. A processor application fee is $5,000. They’re not going to be issuing producer licenses this round, but a producer license application fee is $5,000 plus the applicable cultivator tier application fee.” Kristin McCall, a partner at Dentons, stated.

“The dispensary application fee is $5,000, and the fee for a safety compliance facility is $3,000. The application fee is not refundable unless the application is submitted outside of the application window, in which case the application will be automatically rejected. The fee will be refunded, and the application fee will not be applied to the annual license fee if you get the license.” McCall also stated.

The United States adult-use cannabis industry has generated over $20 billion in total tax revenue since the first legal recreational cannabis purchase was made in Colorado on January 1st, 2014 according to a report by the Marijuana Policy Project.

“Through the first quarter of 2024, states have reported a combined total of more than $20 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales. In 2023 alone, legalization states generated more than $4 billion in cannabis tax revenue from adult-use sales, which is the most revenue generated by cannabis sales in a single year.” the Marijuana Policy Project stated in a press release.

79% of people living in the United States lived in a county with at least one regulated cannabis dispensary according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. The Pew Research Center also found the following:

  • 74% of people in the U.S. live in a state where recreational or medical cannabis is legal
  • There are nearly 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the U.S.
  • California has the most overall dispensaries (3,659)
  • Oklahoma has the most dispensaries per capita (36 dispensaries for every 100,000 residents)

Total legal cannabis sales in the United States are expected to reach $31.4 billion in 2024 according to a recent analysis by Whitney Economics. Additionally, leading cannabis jobs platform Vangst, in conjunction with Whitney Economics, estimates that the legal cannabis industry now supports 440,445 full time-equivalent cannabis jobs in the United States.

Whitney Economics also projects the following legal cannabis sales figures in the United States for the coming years:

  • 2024: $31.4 billion (9.1% growth from 2023)
  • 2025: $35.2 billion (12.1% growth from 2024)
  • 2030: $67.2 billion
  • 2035: $87.0 billion

The emerging legal cannabis industry in the United States is projected to add roughly $112 billion to the nation’s economy in 2024 according to an analysis by MJBiz Daily. The projection is part of the company’s 2024 MJBiz Factbook.

“The total U.S. economic impact generated by regulated marijuana sales could top $112.4 billion in 2024, about 12% more than last year,” MJBiz stated in its initial reporting.