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Updated AL Marijuana Dispensary Guide

Regulated Cannabis Program overview - update

Type of program: Medical Only

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Medical Marijuana To Become Available in Alabama in 2023. Is Legalization or Decriminalization Next?

  • Alabama is inching towards the launch of its medical marijuana program.
  • Medical marijuana patients are expected to have access to dispensaries in early 2023.
  • Lawmakers in the state are pushing to either legalize or decriminalize marijuana and to expunge criminal records for possession.

In 2014, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill (known as Carly’s Law)  allowing the limited use of cannabidiol (CBD) for children suffering from seizures. Two years later, CBD was decriminalized specifically for individuals with debilitating medical conditions and seizure disorders. This bill is now known as Leni’s Law. When the bill was initially drafted, there was no implication for the authorization of medical marijuana containing THC.

The good news is that 2021’s legislative session gave the green light to a real medical marijuana program for the state of Alabama. Negotiations on the details of the program are in full swing in the 2022 legislative session. Legislators expect to see medical marijuana reforms be fully realized over the course of the next year.

The bad news is that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission recently stated that there would be no push for cultivation and distribution licensing opportunities prior to 2023. And, therefore, cannabis products will not be available for purchase before 2023.

What’s being proposed?

Under Act 2021-450A, the Alabama legislature is required to draft the laws that will make the program possible. A comprehensive medical cannabis program known as SB46 is sponsored by Republican Tim Melson. 

Under the proposal, the program would be regulated by a newly formed committee called the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

If the proposal is passed as written, patients will have access to medical marijuana products if they are afflicted with the following conditions:

Furthermore, the attending certified physician must clarify that prior traditional treatments have failed to improve the patient’s ongoing condition.

After patients have received proper certification, they will be required to register with the state to apply for a medical marijuana card. The fee for the application will be no more than $65. Once they have procured their card, they can purchase medical cannabis products.

All patients under the age of 19 must have a certified caregiver to purchase and administer their medical marijuana.

No Smoking Allowed

Marijuana itself will not actually be legalized for medicinal use in Alabama. Vaping marijuana or consuming it in baked products will also be prohibited. Cannabis products can only be consumed in the form of gummies, lozenges, capsules, tablets. Cannabis extracts and isolates can also be used in topical oils, transdermal patches, suppositories, nebulizers, and vaporized oil. 

The State Board of Medical Examiners recently released new draft rules. Under the amended guidelines, physicians will be required to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration. These rules were developed and approved by the state Legislature prior to being signed into law by the governor. The newly drafted document includes provisions for physician training, registration, and physician and patient certification.

Rules for Alabama Medical Marijuana Doctors

Doctors residing in the state of Alabama who plan to certify individuals for medical marijuana are expected to provide ongoing care for their patients. Additionally, they must pass periodic training classes.

Moreover, participating physicians must receive an annual certification permit from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

To qualify for this certification, all doctors are required to:

  •  Have an Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate
  •  Be registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and several state agencies.
  •  Complete a 4-hour continuing medical education course on medical cannabis and pass an examination

Additionally, before a physician can recommend a medical cannabis protocol to their patients, they must first prescribe conventional therapies for all qualifying conditions.

All medical marijuana physicians must provide services while physically located in Alabama. Their patients, in order to be certified, must receive only in-person examinations or other consultations taking place within the state of Alabama. Presumably, that suggests that telemedicine appointments might be possible as long as the doctor is presently located in the state. 

Will Alabama legalize or decriminalize marijuana?

Dave Thomas, the mayor of Springville recently announced his plans to run for governor of Alabama. Thomas has taken a very vocal stance in favor of marijuana legalization.

“I believe we ought to legalize it and decriminalize it,” Thomas said. “It has been part of holistic medicine for over 3,000 years. It’s proven now. People used to say there’s no scientific evidence of its medical benefits. There’s plenty now. It’s helped with the opioid epidemic.”

Alabama marijuana decriminalization and expungement bill

To add further fuel to the legalization and decriminalization controversy Senator Bobby Singleton introduced a marijuana “decriminalization and expungement bill.” The bill was then referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If Senate Bill 160  is passed, it would amend sections 13A-12-213 and 13A-12-214, Code of Alabama 1975. 

If an individual possesses two or more ounces of Cannabis the cases would be assigned new criminal penalties based on prior violations.

  • 1st conviction: Class C misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine not to exceed $250
  • 2nd conviction: Class C misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine not to exceed $500
  • 3rd & subsequent convictions: Class D felony, punishable only by a fine not to exceed $750

If an individual has not been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or violation (excluding minor traffic violations) during the previous 5 years, the court shall order the expungement of all records related to the marijuana possession charges.

If all goes well  Alabama may soon witness the eradication of draconian penalties for simple possession of marijuana. Proponents of the bill are asking Alabama citizens to help this bill cross the finish line by contacting their representatives to show support for the bill.

Unless the Alabama Legislature decides to alter the timelines for the issuing of production licenses, medical marijuana will likely not be available until 2023 at the earliest. 

About Alabama Medical Marijuana - Older Information

According to the National Conference for State Legislatures, the state of Alabama is the 37th state to legalize the sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The recently formed Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission met formally for the first time in August 2021. The Commission is run by a director and assistant director and a 14-members board. Board members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, legislative leaders, and others. Appointments are subject to Senate confirmation. 

Appointees must include professionals with backgrounds in medicine, agriculture, and pharmacy. Public officials, candidates for public office, public employees, and lobbyists are not eligible. Commission members may not have a financial interest in the medical marijuana industry.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is responsible for issuing licenses to cultivators, processors, transporters, testing facilities, and dispensaries. The commission has been directed by law to officially design and instigate guidelines for licensed companies enabling them to sell products by Sept. 1, 2022. The commission has also been tasked with setting up a registry of patients and their designated caregivers who can legally purchase cannabis products.

“Integrated facility” licenses are available for companies that perform all of these functions. Additionally, all crops of medical cannabis must be grown exclusively in the state of Alabama. The growers would need to obtain their licensing by April 2022, since the planting season for cannabis usually commences in April and May.

The Commission recently revised the bill to allow nine marijuana cultivator licenses. The nine designated licensees must be farmers as well as residents of Alabama for at least fifteen years.

The organization is also responsible for the licensing of dispensaries and processors. They have now issued four processor licenses, four dispensary licenses, and five integrated facility licenses. Each licensee may operate multiple facilities. 

All cannabis products must be tested for cannabinoid content and potency, as well as for contaminants such as pesticides and mycotoxins.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Patient Registry keeps records of information such as doctor certifications, patient registrations, lab testing, and amounts of products sold to patients at dispensaries.

Medical marijuana patients pay a 9 percent tax on cannabis products. Additionally, licensed businesses must pay an annual medical cannabis privilege tax. Tax revenue is used to cover the cost of regulating the program and for medical marijuana research.

Alabama medical marijuana dispensaries

Medical cannabis products may only be purchased at state-licensed dispensaries. The commission may issue dispensary licenses to four companies. Each may operate three dispensaries in separate counties. The commission can license more dispensaries based on demand.

Dispensaries may only operate in cities and counties whose governing bodies have approved them.

Medical marijuana products available in Alabama

The following cannabis-infused products are available for purchase at Alabama dispensaries:

Raw plant material that could be smoked or vaped and food products such as cookies or candies are prohibited.

Purchase and possession limits

  • Patients can purchase up to 60 daily doses at one time and may possess up to 70 doses.
  • Daily dosages are capped at 50 milligrams of THC. Doctors may raise the limit to 75 milligrams for patients after 90 days. 
  • Patients with terminal illnesses may purchase more than 75 milligrams but must surrender their driver’s license.
  • Minors may not use products with more than 3 percent THC content.

AL Marijuana Deliveries RX

Not Available

Age restrictions

Patients 19 years of age or older diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions are eligible for an Alabama medical marijuana card. 

For patients under the age of 19, medical marijuana products must be purchased and administered by a parent or registered caregiver. Products sold for use by minors may not exceed 3 percent THC.

Get certified for medical marijuana

How to get an Alabama medical marijuana card

In order to be approved for an Alabama medical marijuana card, patients must be examined by a state-certified medical marijuana doctor and be diagnosed with one of the qualifying medical conditions. 

Alabama medical marijuana doctors

State-certified medical marijuana doctors may not write prescriptions for cannabis because medical cannabis is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, they are permitted to issue recommendations to certify patients for medical cannabis cards.

Doctors that wish to become certified by the state to recommend medical marijuana must complete a four-hour training course and pass an examination. They must also take refresher courses every two years.

The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners could adopt additional rules on qualifications.

Qualifying medical conditions for an Alabama medical marijuana card

In order to qualify for an Alabama medical marijuana card patients must be diagnosed with one of the following medical conditions:

The legislation says medical marijuana should not be the first option, but should be used “only after documentation indicates that conventional medical treatment or therapy has failed unless current medical treatment indicates that use of medical cannabis is the standard of care.”

MedCard Telemedicine

All individuals wishing to obtain a doctor evaluation for a medical marijuana card recommendation may now do so from the comfort of their homes via a telemedicine appointment using their computer, tablet, or smartphone to conduct the appointment.

Video: How to get a medical card in AL using telemedicine.

Fees

At this point, the fees are not firmly established. A medical marijuana card fee may be as high as $300. Alabama medical marijuana cards are valid for a period of 12 months and must be renewed prior to expiration.

Caregivers

Alabama medical marijuana patients may designate a caregiver to purchase and administer their medicine. Caregivers must be 21 or older and be registered with the state. 

Alabama Patient Privacy

National Hippa laws dictate that all medical marijuana patient’s info is private. Access to patient information in the registry would be restricted to doctors, dispensaries, and pharmacists only. Law enforcement agencies may also access the registry for criminal investigations.

Alabama Marijuana Laws

Marijuana-related DUI laws in Alabama

Driving under the influence of marijuana in the state of Alabama could result in the same harsh penalties as alcohol-related offenses.

Alabama medical marijuana and guns

Marijuana, medical or otherwise is still categorized as an illegal Schedule I Controlled Substance on a federal level. This law makes it illegal for anyone in the state of Alabama to purchase guns or ammunition if they also consume any marijuana products.

What Gun Owners Need To Know Before Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

Public consumption laws

Public consumption of marijuana, medical or otherwise is strictly prohibited in the state of Alabama. There are no provisions for social consumption venues

Social consumption: 

Public consumption of marijuana, medical or otherwise is strictly prohibited in the state of Alabama. There are no provisions for social consumption venues.

Workplace Laws

Employers may refuse to hire a medical marijuana patient. They may also implement drug tests and fire employees for using medical cannabis. 

Alabama hemp and CBD laws

The state of Alabama allows the sale, possession, and consumption of all hemp-derived CBD products. These CBD products can be purchased online or at local shops in the state.

Complete AL CBD Guide

Home cultivation: prohibited

The cultivation of cannabis is prohibited outside of licensed facilities. Patients are not permitted to grow their own marijuana in Alabama. 

Alabama Reciprocity

Alabama medical marijuana cards are only valid at licensed dispensaries within the state of Alabama.

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