Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama signed SB 46 into law on May 17th, 2021, legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The law is known as the Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act, or the “Compassion Act” for short, and it allows the use of medical marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. With the passage of this law, Alabama becomes the 36th US state to have medical cannabis laws.
When will Alabama’s medical marijuana laws take effect?
It will still be a while until patients in Alabama will be able to obtain medical marijuana in their state. The signed bill requires the state to have the infrastructure in place for a medical marijuana market no later than September 1st, 2022.
This means that individuals who want to obtain a medical marijuana card will have to wait until September 1st, 2022 to apply. Additionally, individuals and businesses who want to enter the medical marijuana industry in Alabama will have to wait until September 1st, 2022 to apply and obtain licenses to do so. Since it will take several months to obtain the necessary licenses and to produce the medical marijuana products, qualified patients that have obtained their cards will likely have to wait to purchase their products until sometime in late 2022, if not the beginning of 2023.
The available licenses under Alabama’s medical marijuana law are:
- Cultivator: An entity licensed by the Department of Agriculture and Industries and the commission authorized to grow cannabis.
- Processor: An entity licensed by the commission authorized to purchase cannabis from a cultivator and extract derivatives from the cannabis to produce a medical cannabis product or products for sale and transfer in the packaged and labeled form to a dispensing site.
- Dispensary: An entity licensed by the commission authorized to dispense and sell medical cannabis at dispensing sites to registered qualified patients and registered caregivers.
- Integrated Facility License: An entity licensed by the commission authorized to perform the functions of a cultivator, processor, secure transporter, and dispensary.
- Secure Transporter: An entity licensed by the commission authorized to transport cannabis or medical cannabis from one licensed facility or site to another licensed facility or site.
- State Testing Laboratory: An entity licensed by the commission authorized to test cannabis and medical cannabis to ensure the product meets safety qualifications required under the Compassion Act.
Unfortunately, these licenses are going to be limited, and in high demand.
As the law currently sits, the Alabama Cannabis Commission is to issue no more than 12 cultivation licenses; no more than four processors licenses; no more than four dispensaries licenses, which may have up to three locations in different counties than other sites; starting one year post-licensing, more dispensing sites can be approved if the patient pool warrants them; and up to five integrated facility licenses, which may grow, process, transport, and dispense cannabis.
Each integrated facility license may have up to five dispensing sites, in different counties. The commission can increase the number of sites to meet demand.
The law does not provide any information regarding how many licenses will be given out for the secure transporter, and state testing laboratory licenses.
How do you apply for a medical marijuana business license in Alabama?
Beginning September 1, 2022, a person may apply to the commission for a license for an integrated facility or any other license type outlined in the Compassion Act. The application shall be made under oath on a form provided by the commission and shall contain information as prescribed by the commission, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
- The name, business address, business telephone number, and Social Security number or if applicable, the federal tax identification number, of the applicant.
- Whether an owner, director, board member, or individual with a controlling interest in the applicant has been indicted for, charged with, arrested for, or convicted of, pled guilty or nolo contendere to, forfeited bail concerning any criminal offense under the laws of any jurisdiction, either a felony or controlled substance-related misdemeanor, not including traffic violations, regardless of whether the offense has been reversed on appeal or otherwise, including the date, the name and location of the court, arresting agency, and prosecuting agency, the case caption, the docket number, the offense, the disposition, and the 6 location and length of incarceration.
- Whether an applicant has ever applied for or has been granted any commercial license or certificate issued by a licensing board or commission in this state or any other jurisdiction that has been denied, restricted, suspended, revoked, or not renewed and a statement describing the facts and circumstances concerning the application, denial, restriction, suspension, revocation, or nonrenewal, including the licensing board or commission, the date each action was taken, and the reason for each action. Whether an applicant has filed or been served with, a complaint or other notice filed with any public body, regarding the delinquency in the payment of, or a dispute over the filings concerning the payment of, any tax required under federal, state, or local law, including the amount, type of tax, taxing agency, and periods involved.
- A statement listing the names and titles of all public officials of any unit of government, and the spouses, parents, and children of those public officials, who, directly or indirectly, own any financial interest in, have any Page 60SB46 1 beneficial interest in, are the creditors of or hold any debt instrument issued by, or hold or have any interest in any contractual or service relationship with an applicant. The anticipated or actual number of employees; and projected or actual gross receipts.
- Financial information in the manner and form required by rules by the commission.
- Records indicate that a majority of the ownership is attributable to an individual or individuals with proof of residence in this state for a continuous period of no less than years preceding the application date.
How much does it cost to obtain a medical marijuana business license in Alabama?
At the time of applying to the Alabama Cannabis Commission, a non-refundable application fee of $2,500, and will set licensing fees for the various types of licenses between $10,000 and $50,000. We will update this information with more details once they become available.
If a person obtains an Alabama Medical Marijuana Card, their selection of cannabis products is quite frankly, limited. The bill does not allow a licensed vendor to sell marijuana flowers, vape, or infused food products like candies, cookies, or brownies.
As of right now, the only acceptable cannabis products vendors will be able to sell in their facilities after the law takes effect are tinctures, creams, skin patches, gels, oral tablets, capsules, non-sugar coated gelatinous cubes, suppositories, nebulizers, inhalers, oils, or other topical applications.
The “Compassion Act” lays out a narrow list of medical conditions with which a person must be diagnosed by a certified physician. The following are the medical conditions, so far, that the state requires a person to be diagnosed with by a certified physician to obtain an Alabama Medical Marijuana Card:
- A terminal illness
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Panic Disorder
- MS, ALS or some other motor neuron disease, or spasticity related to a spinal cord injury
- Chronic or intractable pain
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Persistent Nausea (cannot be caused by pregnancy)
- Premenstrual syndrome
- A condition causing chronic pain which conventional therapy or medications have been proven ineffective in treating
Social equity program
Though it’s not called a “Social Equity Program” in the law, Alabama’s medical marijuana bill does have a form of a social equity program.
According to the law, one-fifth of all issued licenses, are awarded to business entities at least 51 percent of which are owned by members of a minority group or, in the case of a corporation, at least 51 percent of the shares of the corporation are owned by members of a minority group and are managed and controlled by members of a minority group in its daily operations. For purposes of this section of the law, minority groups mean individuals of African American, Native American, Asian, or Hispanic descent.
We’ll keep you posted regarding any changes or new information as it becomes available!
Marijuana legalization is occurring at a rapid pace, so if you want to keep yourself updated on what’s happening in states like South Dakota, Nevada, or New York, don’t forget to check out our Marijuana Legalization Map where you can browse the current status of laws in every state in the United States and see all our posts on each of them.
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