Regulators Approve Medical Cannabis Rules in Alabama

The law, which passed last year, is getting closer to launch in Alabama.

Regulators in Alabama last week signed off on rules for the state’s new medical cannabis law.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission approved 171 pages worth of rules, which pertain to licensing and regulation of the industry.

The approval of the rules came “after months of development and public input,” according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

“The commission will offer up to 12 licenses to grow medical cannabis; up to four licenses for processing it; up to four for distribution. The state will also offer five licenses for “integrated facilities,” which will combine all three services with transportation. There will be no restriction on licenses to transport or test medical cannabis,” the newspaper reported.

Alabama legalized medical cannabis last year, when Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law.

Under the law, patients with the following conditions may qualify for the treatment: autism; cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain; Crohn’s; depression; epilepsy or conditions causing seizures; HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s; persistent nausea not related to pregnancy; PTSD; sickle cell; spasticity associated with diseases including ALS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries; terminal illnesses; Tourette’s; and chronic pain for which conventional therapies and opiates should not be used or are ineffective.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said in a statement after signing the legislation. “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.”

In March, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission established a timeline for when applications will be received and sales will begin. The commission said at the time that the state was “on pace to start accepting applications for dispensary licenses by September, with regulations for the program to be made public this summer,” and that “patients could get a cannabis card by spring 2023.”

The commission has since said that the start date for medical cannabis sales remains “uncertain.” According to the Montgomery Advertiser, “medical cannabis is not expected to be available to Alabamians until late 2023, at the earliest.”

The newspaper reported that the “commission will begin soliciting interest in license applications on Sept. 1,” while the “applications themselves are expected to go out on Oct. 24 and be due by Dec. 30,” and that actual “licenses will probably not be awarded until June.”

Under the rules approved last week, the commission “will offer up to 12 licenses to grow medical cannabis; up to four licenses for processing it; up to four for distribution,” according to the Montgomery Advertiser, while the “state will also offer five licenses for ‘integrated facilities,’ which will combine all three services with transportation.”

The newspaper has more details on the rules: “There will be no restriction on licenses to transport or test medical cannabis. The cannabis will have to be grown in pots or raised beds in secure facilities, which could push costs up significantly: Estimates of the cost of integrated facilities go as high as $20 million. Those security requirements were a major point of discussion at a July 14 meeting of the commission. Draft rules included requirements for three-inch steel doors on cannabis facilities, which one speaker said did not exist. The draft rules also would have required at least two security guards at cannabis facilities 24/7, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.”

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