Alabama Officially Legalizes Medical Cannabis: What's Next?
Published on 5/18/21
Good news from the state of Alabama - medical cannabis has officially been signed into law! On May 17, Governor Kay Ivey signed the Compassionate Act (also known as Senate Bill 46), making Alabama the 37th state to legalize it for medicinal purposes. Keep reading to learn more about the bill's historic passing!
Alabama's History With Cannabis
Unsurprisingly to many, Alabama marijuana laws have been pretty strict in the past and continue to be for many. The state has yet to decriminalize cannabis, so those who are caught with it can receive a misdemeanor with up to $6,000 in fines and up to a year in prison. There was hope that this would change with SB 149, which advanced through the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee in early 2021, however, the bill was postponed for the foreseeable future for unknown reasons.
While the state first made headway toward legalizing medical marijuana in 2020 with the Compassionate Act passing the State Senate, legislation was put on hold due to COVID-19. Legislators revisited the Act in February 2021, which was thankfully passed and signed by the governor this week. While we're excited that medicinal cannabis has finally been legalized, we're hopeful that legislators will consider decriminalizing cannabis altogether. Long story short, if you're still wondering - is marijuana legal in Alabama? - it is, but only for approved medical patients, and not for anyone else.
Details on Alabama's Medicinal Cannabis Program
There are quite a few details to go through in Senate Bill 46, so we wanted to break it down into easily digestible information. We've answered some of the most important questions below, and you can find more details in the bill here.
When will patients have access to medical cannabis?
As with most new cannabis markets, it will be some time until qualified patients can purchase medical marijuana. The state will set up the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, a 14-member board that will handle licensing and regulations. This board is required to start accepting applications for cultivators and dispensaries by September 1, 2022. Keep in mind that it will take additional time to actually set up stores and grow operations, but we're hopeful that sales will begin in 2023.
What qualifying conditions are accepted in Alabama's MMJ program?
Luckily there are quite a few qualifying conditions that allow patients to apply for an MMJ card. These include autism; cancer-related pain, nausea or weight loss; Crohn's; epilepsy; HIV/AIDS-related nausea; nausea that is untreatable with other methods; PTSD; sickle cell anemia; panic disorder; Tourette's; Parkinson's disease; spasticity related to MS, a motor neuron disease, or spinal cord injury; terminal illness; or a condition causing intractable or chronic pain.
How much will it cost to purchase an MMJ card?
The state has set a $65 fee for patients to receive a medical cannabis card. This does not include any additional fees that may be set by doctors. Like most states, insurance will not cover the cost of fees or medicine.
What cannabis products will I be able to purchase as an MMJ patient?
Unfortunately, the products available to medical cannabis patients in Alabama will be quite limited. As of now, only THC pills, lozenges, oils, suppositories (cannabis inhalers), gelatin cubes, nebulizers and patches will be legalized. Raw flower, candies, baked goods and vape products are not legal at this point in time.
Will there be a cap on THC percentage?
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will determine the maximum daily dosage of THC for patients depending on their qualifying condition. As of now, it will not exceed 50mg per day.
How much cannabis can I possess in Alabama as a patient?
Patients will only be able to purchase up to 60 daily doses of medicine at a time, with the dosage amount being recommended by their doctor. Overall, patients can only possess up to 70 daily doses at a time.
Do you live in Alabama? What do you think of the new medical marijuana legislation? Let us know in the comments below!