In early May 2021, Alabama took a major step toward becoming the 39th state to legalize medical marijuana. After a nearly nine hour bi-partisan debate, the state Senate passed an amended version of the Alabama Compassionate Act, Senate Bill 46 (SB 46), passed 68-34. Governor Kay Ivey signed SB 46 Monday, May 17, 2021 - marking a major win in The Heart of Dixie state.
The measure creates a medical cannabis commission to regulate, license and oversee 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 which could lead to a large influx of MMJ patients. However, the bill prohibits smoking flower, vaping and edibles, leaving patients to purchase capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches.
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Keep on eye out on The Heart of the Dixie. Applications for cannabis licenses will start to be accepted September 2022. 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. More licenses could be issued after the program rolls out depending on demand.