Alabama medical cannabis may not be available until 2023
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.