Sweet Home Alabama, one of the last states to do almost everything when it comes to cannabis is pulling up a seat to the table with this bill. Last Wednesday, a key Alabama Senate committee approved a bill that considered if marijuanna should be legalized in the state on a medical level. The bill has now been sent to the floor for full consideration.
Back in 2019, Tim Melson (R) sent a similar bill that died in the house due to COVID-19. So he brought that thang back and now it seems that it could stand a chance for legalization. The legislation would allow people with qualifying conditions to access cannabis for therapeutic purposes. It's small but still a start for down south medical cannabis users.
So here's the deal; the latest proposal would establish an 11-member Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to implement regulations and oversee licensing. There will be an immediate need for resources for minorities to get into the door on an equal playing field. To get into the program, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of about 20 medical conditions, including anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain. Of course there are guidelines that will make it a challenge to get your license. One of them being, patients with chronic or intractable pain could only be recommended medical marijuana in cases where “conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective.” Patients would also be prohibited from using raw cannabis, smoking, vaping and candy or baked good products. Patients would instead be allowed to purchase capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches. For businesses, nine percent gross proceeds tax on medical marijuana sales. After covering implementation costs, 60 percent of revenue would go to the state’s general fund and 30 percent would go to research into the medical potential of cannabis. It also calls for a nine percent gross proceeds tax on medical marijuana sales.
For patients, caregivers and medical cannabis businesses it means they would receive legal protections under the proposal, preventing them from being penalized for activities authorized by the state.
In order for, physicians to be able to recommend cannabis to their patients, they would have to complete at least a four-hour continuing education course and pass an exam. The course would cost approximately $500 and doctors would also be required to take refresher classes every two years.
Under the bill, regulators would have to develop restrictions on advertising and setting quality control standards. Seed-to-sale tracking and laboratory testing would be regulated..
Applications for cannabis business licenses would have to be accepted starting September 1, 2022 and then proceeded within 60 days.
The commission would be required to approve at least four cultivators, up to four processors, up to four dispensaries for the first year of implementation (more could be approved after that point depending on demand) and as many as five vertically integrated operators.
Alabama is joining its neighbors Mississippi and South Carolina with approving medical marijuanna in the past few years. I could see it happening due to supply and demand. They are not wanting to be on the wrong end of this. Which makes sense but my hope is that they are fair and give opportunities to small businesses that need it. I am also hopeful that they will include opportunities for people to be able to get the full care needed under cannabis. Not just research development.