Alabama is drawing closer to the creation of a medical cannabis program, which could give access to marijuana (in limited forms) to patients across the state. But when will legal cannabis be in the hands of Alabamians? Read on.
Does Alabama have medical cannabis?
It's more accurate to say that right now, the state has a medical cannabis law and a plan to get a medical cannabis industry up and running in the state.
The Alabama Legislature in 2021 approved a bill that authorized the production of medical cannabis by licensed growers, processors and distributors. When implemented, Alabamians will be able to get medical cannabis for 16 different conditions.
When will medical cannabis be available in Alabama?
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) says the earliest it could be available is late 2023.
What's the hold-up?
The commission has spent the better part of a year developing rules, regulations and databases in accordance with the 2021 law. The final rules were to be approved at an Aug. 11 meeting of the AMCC. The licensing process should begin on Sept. 1, but applications are not expected to go out until Oct. 24. Before then, the AMCC will take expressions of interest in applying.
But those are just applications.
Right. The deadline for those will be Dec. 30. The licenses themselves will be awarded next June.
When medical cannabis becomes available, how do you get it?
Physicians have the option of joining the medical cannabis program. A person who wants medical cannabis must have an ongoing patient relationship with the physician, who will have to diagnose the patient with a qualifying condition. The physician will also have to submit documentation that includes a physical exam, documentation that conventional treatments have been attempted, and a treatment plan.
The patient will have to sign a consent form and enter a patient registry to obtain a medical cannabis card; the maximum the state can charge for the card is $65. Patients will be able to buy medical cannabis only at licensed dispensaries.
What are the qualifying conditions?
The law allows the use of medical cannabis for treatment of:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Cancer-related cachexia (weight or muscle loss), nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain
Epilepsy or a condition causing seizures.
HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Sickle Cell Anemia
Spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis or spinal cord injury
A terminal illness
A condition causing chronic or intractable pain
What to know: Alabama's authorization of medical marijuana
Does this allow recreational use of marijuana?
The law does not legalize marijuana generally.
How will marijuana be offered?
The 2021 law specifically forbids smoking medical cannabis or using it in edibles. Medical cannabis will be offered in the form of tablets, capsules, gelatins, oils, gels, creams, suppositories, transdermal patches, or inhalable oils or liquids. The law also required the gelatins to be one flavor: the AMCC has voted on peach.
Most patients will be allowed up to 50 mg of legal cannabis per day. After three months, a physician will be allowed to bump the dosage up to 75 mg. There will be no caps on dosage for those with terminal illnesses.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman at 334-240-0185 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Medical cannabis in Alabama: Here's what you need to know