In early May 2021, Alabama took a significant step toward becoming the 39th state to legalize medical marijuana. After a nearly nine-hour bipartisan debate, the state Senate passed an amended version of the Alabama Compassionate Act, Senate Bill 46 (SB 46), 68-34. Governor Kay Ivey signed SB 46 Monday, May 17, 2021 - marking a significant win in the Heart of Dixie state.
The measure creates a medical cannabis commission to regulate, license, and oversee the distribution of medical marijuana. Doctors could prescribe medical marijuana for several conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Patients will receive medical cannabis cards, and vaping or smoking of medical marijuana would be prohibited while products including gummies, oils, or creams are allowed.
Because the underlying qualifications for a patient to register for a medical card are non-restrictive, this could lead to a large influx of MMJ patients. However, the bill prohibits smoking flowers, vaping, and edibles, leaving patients to purchase capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches.
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Keep an eye out for the Heart of Dixie. It has been a long time coming since the time of medical legalization, but Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission Director, John McMillan, predicts roll out of their medical program to commence in Spring of 2023. The commission will be required to approve at least four cultivators, up to four processors, up to four retailers with the ability to have three locations, and five vertically integrated operators for the first year of implementation. Depending on demand, more licenses could be issued after the program rolls out.