Alabama – The medical marijuana market is inching toward reality
With the April passage of Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, in April, a medical marijuana market will be created in Alabama and will focus on providing civil and criminal protections to patients who have qualifying conditions. Melson is also a doctor and small business owner.
The bill also creates the Medical Cannabis Commission, which is responsible for licensing and regulating the cultivation, processing, transporting, testing, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The bill also created a 9% sales tax on medical marijuana, in addition to setting application and licensing fees.
As of Oct. 17, businesses in the state to receive Request for Business Applications through the Medical Cannabis Commission was 607. Those businesses have until Dec. 30 to file their applications, which is supported by a $2,500 application fee.
The state is poised to cull $1,517,500 in revenue from those applications alone. The state received 133 applications for integrated facilities; 124 for cultivators; 35 for processors; 235 for dispensaries; 69 for secure transportation; and seven for lab testing facilities.
However, Alabama, under the law, can only award up to 12 cultivator licenses, four processor licenses, four dispensary licenses, five integrated facility licenses, and an unspecified number of state testing lab and transportation licenses. For dispensaries, each licensee can operate three sites.
Upon approval of licenses, 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 table, capsule, tincture, non-sugarcoated gelatinous cuts, lozenges, gels, oils, creams, suppositories, patches, or liquid or oil for use in an inhaler. Raw material from the plant is not permitted under the bill, or smoking, combustion, or vaping of medical 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 causing seizures; HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatments; PTSD; Sickle Cell Anemia; spasticity associated with motor neuron disease, including ALS, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury; a terminal illness; Tourette’s Syndrome; and conditions causing chronic or intractable pain.
In addition, the bill provides protections for patients by prohibiting employers from adopting employment policies that require its employees to notify them if they have a medical card.