In 2021, Alabama legalized medical marijuana. Here’s where we are now
By WVUA Digital Reporter Jas Orr
In 2021, Alabama became the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. The process to integrate this law into daily life is a slow one, but one that is set to be complete by the end of this year or by early 2024.
Medical marijuana was legalized by Alabama Act 2021-450, also known as the Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act, sponsored by Republican Tim Melson. The act specifies that it will “provide civil and criminal protections to certain patients with a qualifying medical condition who have a valid medical cannabis card for the medical use of cannabis.”
The act allows for the use of cannabis to treat conditions including cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain, Crohn’s, depression, epilepsy or condition causing seizures, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss and terminal illnesses.
Cannabis growth and sales will be highly regulated and only available in certain forms, including capsules, gels, gelatinous cubes and oils. Raw plant material will not be available, nor will smokable items or edibles.
Additionally, the act established the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the integration and administration of the bill.
The most recent progress that the AMCC made in setting up the industry was collecting applicants from businesses seeking licenses to cultivate, process and distribute marijuana products.
The AMCC reported that 94 businesses applied for these licenses. They have teamed up with the University of South Alabama to review these applicants and assign the limited number of licenses based on merit.
In April, the applicants will be made available for public inspection and comment.
In June, the committee is slated to award the business licenses in each category. Once those licenses are issued, physicians will be able to get certified so they can prescribe cannabis.
As medical marijuana rolls out around the state, possession of cannabis remains illegal for recreational use.
First-time possession of personal amounts is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $6,000, and a mandatory six months driver’s license suspension.
“The Commission spent much of 2022 laying the groundwork for Alabama’s medical cannabis industry by drafting rules and regulations, obtaining software tracking systems, and developing the business applications,” said AMCC director John McMillan. “We are excited to utilize the strong framework we put together to implement a safe and operational medical cannabis industry as we move into 2023.”
For more details and further updates, visit the AMCC website.