Medical marijuana products expected to be available in Alabama no earlier than next spring

Businesses wishing to grow, process, transport, test and sell medical marijuana products in what will be a new seed-for-sale industry in Alabama can begin submitting license applications to the fall if the current schedule is respected.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission met today in Montgomery and updated plans to develop regulations for the program authorized by legislation passed in 2021.

“It will probably be mid to late spring next year, best-case scenario, for the products to be available,” said SMAC executive director John McMillan.

SMAC has published a timeline for establishing the regulations that will govern the program. He will submit the rules to the Legislative Services Agency for publication on June 21. A 35-day public comment period begins June 30.

SMAC will hold a public hearing on the rules on July 14. Speakers will need to register in advance and will be able to do so on the agency’s website beginning June 30.

On August 11, the SMAC will reconvene in hopes of adopting the rules as amended after public comment. The rules will be released on August 31.

Will Webster, a lawyer for SMAC, said that means companies can start applying for applications on September 1, a target date set by law. The rules go into effect 45 days later. At this point, companies can officially apply for licenses.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alabama is one of 37 states to legalize medical marijuana products under the bill Governor Kay Ivey signed into law in May 2021.

SMAC will issue licenses up to:

  • 12 growers
  • 4 processors
  • 4 dispensaries that can operate up to three sites in separate counties
  • Secure carriers
  • Laboratories to test potency and content
  • 5 integrated companies that can grow, process, transport and distribute the products.

Integrated holders will be able to have up to five dispensaries each. This means the state could have up to 37 dispensaries.

Patients who receive a referral from a qualified physician will be able to obtain the products as an oral tablet, capsule, tincture, gel cube, gel, oil, cream, patch, suppository, nebulizer, liquid, or inhaler oil. No raw plant materials or products for smoking or eating will be permitted.

Eligible medical conditions are Autism Spectrum Disorders; cancer-related cachexia, nausea, vomiting, chronic pain, and weight loss; Crohn’s disease; the Depression; epilepsy or conditions causing seizures; HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury; terminal illness; Tourette’s syndrome; and conditions causing chronic or intractable pain.

The 14-member commission today heard presentations from officials of medical marijuana programs in Ohio and Louisiana.

The Louisiana legislature first authorized the program in 2015, but the products weren’t available until August 2019. Since then, 48,334 patients have received a total of 369,149 prescriptions in the state. The numbers have risen sharply this year. Louisiana lawmakers revised the program to allow pharmacies to supply herbal raw materials and smoking products last year.