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Medical Cannabis In Alabama A “Quagmire”

The Alabama Cannabis Coalition has expressed its “extreme disappointment” in ongoing issues with medical cannabis licensing in the state.

Medical cannabis became legal in Alabama after Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 46 in 2021, which also set up the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC). After developing regulations in 2022, AMCC began accepting license applications from businesses.

It’s been a mess ever since, with multiple pauses, revisions and litigation related to licensing. Meanwhile, patients suffer. The Alabama Cannabis Coalition were hopeful the beginning of  the 2024 Legislative Session would see the medical cannabis issue “first and foremost in the hearts and minds of our Legislators.” But it wasn’t to be.

In a press release, the group states:

“The Alabama Cannabis Coalition and the citizens of Alabama would sincerely like to know how and when this quagmire will be resolved.”

Another opportunity to resolve the situation recently failed. Under existing law, the AMCC can issue no more than four processor licenses and dispensary licenses and no more than five integrated facility licenses to eligible applicants. Sen. David Sessions’ SB276 would have increased the number of licenses to six processor licenses, seven dispensary licenses, and 15 integrated facility licenses. But as at May 7, the status of SB276  was “Indefinitely Postponed”.

The issuing of licenses remains in limbo while multiple lawsuits based on alleged Open Meetings Act violations by the AMCC are in play, and other issues.

“The sick, suffering and dying citizens of Alabama continue to be denied access and they do not have the luxury to wait for that access,” says the Coalition.

The situation is pretty grim. The 2024 Alabama Legislative Session adjourned last week, so any potential legislative fix won’t happen until next year. And then it could be months after that before Alabama medicines are in the hands of patients. While the AMCC had pencilled in December to take another crack at awarding licenses; current legal action threatens that. If it does go ahead and is successful, the very earliest medicines will be available is March next year.

Even in best case scenario, for some patients the wait will seem like an eternity.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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