They say the third time’s the charm – and the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) will certainly be hoping this is the case.
Medical marijuana finally became legal in the state after the Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 46 in 2021, which also set up the AMCC. After developing regulations in 2022, AMCC began accepting license applications from businesses.
In June this year, the AMCC announced recipients of integrated facility, cultivator, processor, dispensary, secure transport and state testing laboratory licences. But the discovery of inconsistencies in scoring data less than a week later led to a pause. Then in August, the AMCC nominated and voted to award medical cannabis business licenses to various applicants based on corrected scores. But this attempt also ran into trouble.
The Commission is taking another stab at getting things right, announcing last week it has rescinded its previous medical cannabis business license awards and denials; with new procedures in place provided through emergency rules.
“This action paves a path for us to award business licenses by the end of the year,” Commission Chairman Rex Vaughn said. “We have an aggressive timeline in front of us, but we feel that it is of the utmost importance that we get this industry started in an expeditious manner for both the applicants and patients.”
While the new procedures see previous score results preserved, applicants have an opportunity to make a presentation to the Commission concerning issues identified in their application and their results. These presentations will be open to the public, and starting late last week the Commission also began accepting public comments in favor of or opposed to granting a license to a particular applicant.
Commission members will also be able to choose to disregard previous scoring in their individual decisions.
The AMCC says it is now scheduled to award cultivator, processor, dispensary, secure transporter, and state testing laboratory licenses on December 1, 2023; with integrated facility licenses to be granted on December 12, 2023.
Hopefully, this time around things will stick as Alabama patients continue what has been a long wait to access medicines. Based on the revised schedule and assuming no more legal show-stoppers, the AMCC expects medical cannabis to be available to patients by March 2024 at the earliest.