Alabama medical marijuana program takes first steps

(The Center Square) – The medical marijuana market in Alabama is slowly getting closer to reality.

With the April transition from Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, will create a medical marijuana market in April focused on providing civil and criminal protections to patients with qualifying conditions. Melson is also a doctor and small business owner.

The bill also creates the Medical Cannabis Commission, which will be responsible for licensing and regulating the cultivation, processing, transportation, testing, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The bill also introduced a 9% sales tax on medical marijuana, in addition to setting filing and licensing fees.

As of October 17, there were 607 companies in the state that had received business application requests from the Medical Cannabis Commission. These companies have until December 30 to submit their applications, supported by an application fee of $2,500.

The state is poised to generate $1,517,500 in revenue from these applications alone. The state received 133 applications for integrated facilities; 124 for cultivators; 35 for processors; 235 for pharmacies; 69 for safe transport; and seven for laboratory test facilities.

However, Alabama, by law, can only issue up to 12 cultivation licenses, four processing licenses, four pharmacy licenses, five integrated facility licenses, and an unspecified number of state testing laboratory and transportation licenses. In the case of pharmacies, each licensee can operate three locations.

After the licenses are approved, the state would collect an additional $3.17 million if all licenses are awarded.

Under the new law, medical marijuana can be dispensed in oral tablets, capsules, tinctures, non-sugar-coated jelly, lozenges, gels, oils, creams, suppositories, patches, or liquids or oils for use in an inhaler. Raw material from the plant is not permitted under the law, nor is smoking, burning, or vaping medicinal marijuana products.

Qualifying medical conditions for patients include Autism Spectrum Disorder; cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; Depression; epilepsy or conditions that cause seizures; HIV/AIDS related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s disease; Persistent nausea that does not respond significantly to traditional treatments; PTSD; Sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with motor neuron disease, including ALS, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury; an incurable disease; Tourett syndrome; and conditions that cause chronic or intractable pain.

In addition, the law protects patients by prohibiting employers from implementing employment policies that require their employees to notify them if they have a medical card.