Alabama Cannabis Laws

Is Cannabis Legal In Alabama?
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Alabama Law: 

StateRecreationalMedical MarijuanaCBD
AlabamaNoRestricted Use*Yes

Federal Law:

Recreational Medical MarijuanaCBD

Is recreational cannabis legal in Alabama?

No. Despite medical marijuana activists’ efforts across the state, Alabama remains one of the most conservative in the US regarding cannabis. Illegal smoking or possessing any amount of recreational cannabis can lead to jail time. 

Is Medical Marijuana legal in Alabama?

Yes & No. Full-strength Medical Marijuana is currently illegal in Alabama.

From the 2014 signing of Carly’s Law, it is legal for seizure patients with a prescription from a licensed physician to possess and use CBD oil that contains a low percentage of THC. 

As of May of 2020, Alabama was waiting for the state House of Representatives to approve their medical marijuana bill, which the state Senate previously passed in March 2020. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all momentum was halted for the rest of that year. Most recently, In February 2021, state senators like Tim Melson have begun to reignite legislation efforts in the senate. 

Are CBD products legal in Alabama? 

Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC. 

Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

Alabama’s Cannabis Timeline:

1931: Cannabis Prohibition begins

1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.

1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession. 

1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”,) The court’s unanimous opinion was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.

1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. 

This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress has the power to schedule or reschedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.

Classification of Controlled Substances:

Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use

Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use

Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use

1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the death penalty’s promotion to be used against “drug kingpins.”

1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs. 

2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

2014: Carly’s Law, Alabama Senate Bill 174 Was a state-funded study lobbied by the Chandlers (Carly’s parents) that showcased the benefits of children and adults who suffer from seizures, using cannabidiol oil to create a better quality of life. This included their daughter Carly who has a rare genetic disorder called CDKL5. This law makes it legal for seizure patients with a prescription from a licensed physician to possess and use CBD oil that contains a low percentage of THC. Impassioned medical marijuana activists of Alabama and success from state-funded studies have led to a vote in the State Senate to make medical marijuana fully legal. As of 2020, Alabama is currently waiting for the state’s House to approve.

2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

2020: Medical Marijuana Legalization in Alabama halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

2021: Alabama State Senators reanimate momentum for medical marijuana legalization. 

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