A miracle happens – no, TWO: the Lege passes medical cannabis AND sports betting Skip to content

A miracle happens – no, TWO: the Lege passes medical cannabis AND sports betting


Today, on the last day of this year’s General Assembly session, the legislature actually passed not one, but TWO good bills that we have been waiting on for years.

Medical marijuana

SB 47 passed the Senate 26-11 a few days ago. This was a major victory, as the Senate was where MM had always died in the past.

Then today, it came out of committee in the House and on to the floor. There is passed 66-33, and will go to the governor, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of it in the past.

Many thought that the governor’s executive order earlier this year forced the Republican legislature to deal with the issue, so that Beshear would not own the issue outright come this fall’s election.

The bill does not permit the smoking of marijuana, even for medical purposes, and has a relatively limited list of conditions for which it may be prescribed. And, the bill doesn’t go into effect until 2025, so that the executive branch can set up the regulatory and fiscal framework for it.

Sports betting

After years of watching millions of dollars leave the state to bet on sports, a bill to legalize sports betting passed the legislature at the last minute.

HB 551 had already passed the House, but its fate in the Senate appeared dismal, as leadership said repeatedly that it did not have the votes in the Republican caucus to pass. The bill faced an extra hurdle this year, as it needed a 2/3 majority — 23 of the 37 senators — to pass, as it dealt with finances in a non-budget year.

In the end, it passed in the Senate by a vote of 25-12, and now goes to the governor to sign.

Since this is Kentucky, only horse racing tracks and the Kentucky Speedway will be allowed to operate sports betting facilities, websites, and mobile apps. Bets placed at physical locations would have an excise tax of 9.75%, and bets placed online or via apps would be taxed at 14.25%. There are some estimates that these taxes could generate about $23 million a year in revenue for the state.


Print Friendly and PDF

Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

Twitter Facebook Website Louisville, KY