Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Commission Finalized
The time to get your Alabama Marijuana Card is coming closer and closer.
One of the first big milestones in the state’s medical marijuana program has been reached, as all of the positions on the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) have now been filled.
SB 46, the state’s medical marijuana law, mandated the creation of the AMCC, which will oversee the creation of the medical market here, working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Industries.
The Next Date to Watch for is September 1, 2022
In addition to overseeing the doctor/patient end of the medical marijuana market, the Commission is responsible for overseeing the market from seed-to-sale, meaning the regulatory framework it creates will govern the growing, distribution, and retail sale of the medicine.
Beginning this month, the AMCC will meet regularly to design the regulatory framework for the market. That gives the AMCC a little over a year to create rules governing the prescribing, growing, distributing, and selling of medical marijuana, because SB 46 says everything must be in place by September 1, 2022.
1) accepting and processing applications for marijuana cards, 2) licensing and overseeing marijuana cultivation, and 3) licensing and regulating dispensaries.
Overseeing Marijuana Cards: The Alabama Medical Cannabis Patient Registry System
By September 1, 2022, the AMCC must have established a database to record all of the card-carrying marijuana patients in the state, and be ready to accept and process applications for cards.
That might sound simple, but the law makes some pretty specific demands of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Patient Registry System (AMCPRS).
For every card-carrying patient in the state, the AMCPRS must include: the patient’s name; their prescribing physician’s names; their qualifying conditions; and the names of their registered caregivers, if any.
The AMCPRS must also record every patient’s purchases, to assure that they do not exceed their authorized dosages, and it must track all of the marijuana sold in the state, from the time it’s cultivated until it’s in the hands of an authorized patient.
Overseeing Cultivation: Governing the Growers
By that same date, the AMCC must have: rules in place governing licensed marijuana growers; a system in place to regulate applications for and the awarding of cultivation licenses; and oversight procedures created to ensure that cultivators are in compliance with AMCC regulations.
This may seem like an example of regulatory red tape, but all of this oversight is necessary to ensure the maximum medicinal value of the marijuana sold in Alabama.
Those who illegally purchase marijuana, either for recreation or self-medication, have no way of knowing the exact origins, purity, or strain of the product they buy. But with an Alabama Marijuana Card, you’ll know for sure that what you’re taking will only improve your health.
Overseeing Retail Sales: Ensuring Quality at the Dispensaries
Finally, by that September 1, 2022 deadline, the AMCC must have regulations in place for issuing licenses to marijuana dispensaries.
SB 46 mandates a lot of minor details regarding the oversight of dispensaries, but there is one requirement in particular that should be seen as good news for those with an Alabama Marijuana Card: The AMCC must establish training requirements that help ensure that dispensaries employees are knowledgeable about the products they’re selling and the needs of their customers.
Again, this may seem like just one more bit of governmental bureaucracy keeping you from finding relief, but don’t you want to know that the people selling you your medicine are trained in helping you maximize that relief once it’s finally available?
A Little Over a Year Away from Safe, Vetted Relief
As their state has watched more than three dozen other states embrace medical marijuana while it seemed relief would never come here, Alabamans can be forgiven if they feel like their turn is taking forever to get here. But marijuana has been illegal here for almost a century, and now we’re a little more than a year away from legal, safe relief that has been subjected to strict quality-control measures.
This news about the AMCC is so big, because it is a concrete, indisputable benchmark on the way to medical marijuana in the Yellowhammer State. No one can deny it now: Relief is on the way.
Composition of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
SB 46 established a very specific process for nominating members to the commission, one designed to ensure expertise in a variety of relevant fields.
Although the nominees must be confirmed by the State Senate during a regular or special session, and the Senate isn’t slated to meet for a regular session until 2022, that shouldn’t delay the AMCC’s work. Nominees are allowed to serve pending their confirmation or rejection.
The Governor nominates a doctor, a pharmacist, and someone experienced in agricultural lending or banking. If confirmed, they will serve four, three, and two years respectively.
The Lieutenant Governor nominates a pediatrician, a health law attorney, and a biochemist. If confirmed, they will serve one, four, and three years respectively.
The President Pro Tempore of the Senate nominates an oncologist to serve two years, and someone experienced in agricultural practices who will serve one.
The Speaker of the House nominates someone with a background in mental health or substance abuse counselling to serve four years and someone with experience in agricultural systems management to serve three.
The Commissioner of Agriculture nominates someone experienced in agricultural or horticultural practices, who serves two years.
The State Health Officer nominates one member to serve four years.
And finally both the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency nominate one nonvoting advisory member each, serving for a three and a one year term respectively.
And the Nominees are...
Governor Kay Ivey’s Nominees
Dr. William Saliski, Jr., a Montgomery pulmonologist
Sam Blakemore, a pharmacist at Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham
Dwight Gamble, a bank executive from Headland
Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s Nominees
Dr. Angela Martin, an Anniston pediatrician
Dr. Eric Jensen, a Brownsboro biochemist
Loree Skelton, a healthcare lawyer from Birmingham
Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s Nominees
Rex Vaughn, a Madison County farmer and a vice president of the Alabama Farmers Federation
Charles Price, a retired circuit judge from Montgomery
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed’s Nominees
Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate
James Harwell, president of Green Thumb Nursery in Montgomery
Attorney General Steve Marshall
Katherine Robertson, chief counsel for the Attorney General’s office
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris
Dr. Jerzy P. Szaflarski, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Epilepsy Center
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor
Dion Robinson, of the ALEA
The Alabama Medical Marijuana Market Won’t be Here for Another Year, but You Can Get Started Now
Sure, it will be September of 2022 before you can actually buy medical marijuana here, but you can start the ball rolling now so you’ll be ready as soon as it arrives.
In fact, although the market is more than a year away, doctors report that patient interest is “soaring.” Why risk delaying your relief because you cannot get an appointment?
Reserve an evaluation today, and we will book an appointment for you with one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors just as soon as we’re cleared to see patients. Not only that, but you’ll save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!