by The Real Dirt | Oct 19, 2021 | Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Legalization, Medical Marijuana
An Alabama regulatory commission has plenty to do before people can apply for medical cannabis licenses, so it won’t push for a date that might allow sales next year, a commission official said.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission had said earlier that it might ask for the date to be moved up. It decided last week not to do so, the Montgomery Advertiser quoted commission Vice Chairman Rex Vaughn as saying.
Before people can apply, the commission has to establish rules and train physicians, Vaughn noted. It also must create a central database to register patients by next September. Registration cards will cost up to $65 a year.
Since would-be growers and distributors cannot apply for licenses before Sept. 1, 2022, the substance probably won’t be available before 2023, supporters of medical marijuana have said.
But Vaughn noted that the legislature would have to change the date, and he said asking it to do so could open the way for those who want to weaken the law.
“We could lose what we’ve got,” he said.
The legislature approved the medical cannabis bill in May after hot debate in the House, which had blocked earlier bills. The commission must decide license applications within 60 days.
“If you start looking at the timelines for what it’s going to take to get rules and regulations approved, and the growth cycle and the 60 days that people have to get in business after they get the license, it starts adding up,” John McMillian, the commission’s executive director, said after the commission’s meeting last week.
Sen. Tim Melson, a Florence Republican and sponsor of a bill to move up the date, said he supported the commission’s decision because he is in favor of a program implemented in a “thoughtful and correct” manner.
Once available, doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis for at least 16 conditions including cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. Cannabis would be available as tablets, capsules, gummies, lozenges, topical oils, suppositories, patches, and in nebulizers or oil to be vaporized. The law forbids smoking or vaping medical cannabis, or baking it into food.
The law also forbids the recreational use of marijuana.
by Travis C | Sep 6, 2021 | Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization, Medical Marijuana
The Alabama Medical Cannabis commission held its first official meeting on September 1, 2021, in which the board’s chairman expressed concern that the rollout of the Alabama medical cannabis program may take longer than expected.
During the first meeting of the 14-member commission, Dr. Steven Stokes tried to establish a timeline for how soon treatment with medical marijuana will be available in Alabama.
“I was hoping next spring,” Stokes said.
However Patrick Moody, the deputy commissioner for the Alabama Department of Agriculture, has said that Alabama medical cannabis growers should not expect to receive their licenses until September 2022.
Accounting for the time it would take growers to produce a harvest after receiving a license with indoor facilities, Alabama medical cannabis likely won’t be available to consumers until 2023.
The medical cannabis commission has a deadline of Sept. 1, 2022 to set up the rules to implement the program and issue licenses to cultivators, processors, transporters, testing laboratories, and dispensaries. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will regulate the cultivators.
But without any medical cannabis to sell, dispensaries will struggle to open their days on day one. Additionally, physicians who will prescribe Alabama medical cannabis must also go through a training program, which will likely keep some physicians from participating.
In addition to the medical cannabis program being pushed back, the state’s hemp industry has been struggling as well.
The industrial hemp program in Alabama started with 600 hemp growers and is now down to only 200 farms. The majority of Alabama’s hemp is grown outdoors, which has led to a rise in plant theft.
The cannabis commission has taken note of this and will require Alabama medical cannabis to be grown indoors or in a greenhouse for greater security. The chairmen of the board has also mentioned the possibility of introducing more legislation to help speed up the process.
by The Real Dirt | Aug 16, 2021 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Legalization, Medical Marijuana
A Dothan area oncologist was elected as the chairman of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The members of the newly formed Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission on Thursday met in a formal session for the first time for an organizational meeting in Alabama’s historic 1859 Capitol Building.
“You truly have a lot of work cut out for you,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey told the commission members. “It will be up to you, those who have been appointed by many elected leaders around the state, to establish a criteria for medical cannabis production in Alabama.”
“I can’t urge you strongly enough to keep transparency and efficacy foremost in your mind,” Ivey told the members of the new commission. “The task before you is providing legal use for medical cannabis,” Ivey said. “We simply have to get this right.”
The Alabama Legislature shocked many observers, on both sides of the marijuana debate; when legislators elected to jettison the hotly debated gambling bill and pass medical marijuana legalization in the 2021 legislative session instead. Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, had carried the legislation three years in a row, with it finally passing after an 11-hour debate on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives in May.
The members of the commission voted to make Dr. Steven Stokes the chairman of the commission. Rex Vaughn was voted in as co-chair of the Commission. Stokes then s appointed a subcommittee tasked with searching for an executive director of the commission.
“We have a long way to go and a short time to get there,” Stokes told the commission, quoting from the southern classic: ‘Smokey and the Bandit. The Commission must have a program in place to certify physicians to recommend medical marijuana in place by Jan 1, 2022. Stokes assigned a subcommittee to work on this task.
“We are going to have to meet at least once a month,” Stokes said. Meetings will be “the second Thursday of each month at least through the first of the year until we get organized and up and going.”
“Patient wants this,” Stokes said. “They campaigned for this; but there are also a lot of people who have a problem with this. They are concerned that this would be a gateway for more drug abuse.”“For a cancer patient there is a great benefit,” Stokes, an oncologist from Dothan, said. “But at least half of the homeless have an addiction problem. We don’t want to increase substance addictions.”
by The Real Dirt | May 18, 2021 | 420 Culture & Travel, 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Legalization, Medical Marijuana
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed medical marijuana legislation Monday as conservative opposition to the issue gradually faded after decades of debate.
The program will allow people with one of 16 qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness and depression, to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. The approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill in 2013 won that year’s so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill of the year in the House of Representatives.
Ivey called signing the bill an “important first step” and thanked the sponsors, of the bill for their work. While the bill takes effect immediately, the bill sponsor estimated it will be about 15 months or so before medical marijuana is available in the state.
“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days,” Ivey said.
The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist. It was handled in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator. The approval came after a number of lawmakers shared stories of loved ones and their illnesses.
“Hopefully, we are going to help some people,” Melson said Monday night.
Melson said for people who have tried other treatments without success, that people will have “another option to treat themselves and get some relief.” The state Senate approved the bill in February by a 21-8 vote after just 15 minutes of debate. But the House of Representatives had traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and sent the bill through two committees before approving it 68-34.
The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.
The program authorizes use of medical marijuana to treat for conditions including cancer-related nausea or vomiting, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Tourette’s syndrome.
Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of a state Democratic representative, Laura Hall. She had first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall had died of AIDS.
Ball, who shepherded the bill through the House, said last week that “hearts and minds” were slowly changed on the issue.
“I think we just educated them as much as anything. This wasn’t done on emotion. This was done on science,” Melson said.
by The Real Dirt | May 7, 2021 | 420 News, Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Legalization, Medical Marijuana, Politics
Alabama lawmakers caved their opposition yesterday and formally approved the state’s medical cannabis legalization bill.
Alabama lawmakers sent a medical cannabis legalization bill to Gov. Kay Ivy (R) on Thursday that will allow qualifying patients to purchase certain forms of cannabis after receiving a doctor’s recommendation, according to the Associated Press.
Although House lawmakers ultimately passed the bill in a 68-36 vote, it was faced by a Republican filibuster, a delay, and finally a two-hour floor debate. The bill then returned to the Senate where it was quickly passed.
Governor spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves.”
Under the law, conditions including cancer, terminal illnesses, chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, and panic disorder will qualify a patient to sign up for the program. The bill will allow patients to purchase pills, skin patches, and creams, but does not allow for the smoking or vaping of medical cannabis products. The legislation was named after Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall, Rep. Laura Hall’s son who died from complications from AIDS.
The bill’s primary sponsor Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who is a former state trooper and state investigator, gave emotional testimony on the House floor.
“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now.” — Rep. Mike Ball
Former state Rep. Patricia Todd — who introduced Alabama‘s first medical cannabis bill in 2013 that would later receive a Shroud Award, an award given to bills deemed the least likely to pass — said she was happy the reforms had finally passed.
“They laughed at me,” she remembered. “I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue.”