A law allowing medical marijuana in Alabama has passed, but how long will it take to establish a program?
Governor Ivey signed SB 46 into law last month, clearing the way for medical marijuana here. So does that mean you can now get an Alabama Marijuana Card and legally buy cannabis? Well, not yet.
Medical marijuana is now legal in Alabama, but with a few catches that could keep you from buying some. The biggest one being that there is not yet an infrastructure to ensure safe, legal sale of medical marijuana.
Still, the light is at the end of the tunnel for those who have been waiting for the relief only medical marijuana can bring. Let’s look at how we got here, and how long it’s going to be before you’ll be able to buy marijuana in the Yellowhammer State.
What is SB 46?
Under this new law, many Alabamians now qualify to see relief from certain medical conditions (more on that later) provided they get an Alabama Medical Card.
Passed overwhelmingly by the legislature on May 6, 2021, Governor Ivey spent three weeks considering the bill before singing it into law.
Thanks to this law, it is now legal for licensed cultivators to grow marijuana, licensed retailers to sell it, and for patients with Alabama Medical Cards to buy it. The problem is there is no government agency to issue those licenses and oversee those cards yet.
That agency will be called the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC), and it will oversee the process of licensing growers and sellers as well as the administration of marijuana cards.
So yes, thanks to SB 46 medical marijuana is legal in Alabama, but that’s a little like saying there is no law against owning a talking chimp. Sure, you won’t get in trouble with the law, but you’re still not going to be able to buy what you’re looking for just yet.
Alabama Medical Marijuana Won’t Grow Itself
One of the tasks the AMCC must complete before we can buy medical marijuana here is creating the rules under which marijuana cultivation here will operate. According to the law, whatever regulations the Commission develops must serve the purposes of ensuring public health and making sure cannabis-related facilities are secure and legally compliant, without interfering with or altering any of the regulations already put on place by SB 46.
The legislature already did some of the work of creating regulations to oversee growers by laying out some preliminary rules. In addition to being in good standing legally and majority-owned by Alabamans, there are a whole lot of other regulations with which growers must comply.
The Commission has rules to follow in the process as well. For one thing, the Commission must consult with the Department of Agriculture and Industries in determining the exact number of cultivator licenses to issue, but it must issue at least four of them, and one-fifth of licensees must be majority owned by an individual who is a minority or a group comprised of mostly individuals who are minorities.
There are a lot more regulations regarding cultivation in SB 46, and you can learn more about those rules here.
You Can’t Buy Medical Marijuana if There is Nobody Selling it
Even when medical marijuana is finally available in Alabama, you won’t exactly be able to just walk into a Piggly Wiggly and grab a bag.
Only licensed dispensaries will be able to sell medical marijuana, and just like those licensed cultivators, there are a lot of regulations for the AMCC to consider.
The text of the law lays down rules for everything from the number of dispensaries licenses that will be issued (no more than four), how many locations each licensed dispensary may operate (no more than three), and how long the medical marijuana marker has to be in existence before the Commission can consider allowing more locations to open (a year.)
And finally, as with regulations for growers, there are a lot of other laws and legalese pertaining to dispensaries, which you can learn more about at the links above.
There is one dispensary regulation that most directly affects patients, however. The AMCC must establish training standards for dispensary employees and ensure that dispensaries only hire qualified employees. So you can rest assured that if and when you do decide to treat your conditions with medical marijuana, you’ll find qualified, competent retailers ready to help you pick the products that will best help you.
Rules for Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients
The AMCC must also establish regulations applying to medical marijuana patients, and develop a database of patients who have Alabama Marijuana Cards. And as with growers and sellers, SB 46 has already defined some of the standards patients will have to meet.
First, marijuana cards will only be issued to patients who have PTSD, cancer, or any of the more than twelve qualifying conditions that SB 46 recognizes as appropriate to treat with medical marijuana. Alabamians who have one of these conditions will also need approval from a state-licensed doctor who has completed a medical marijuana training course, and to pay a fee of no more than $65
And again, as with cultivators and retailers, there are plenty more regulations applying to patients. You can read more about those requirements here, or check out how Alabama Marijuana Card can handle some of the red tape for you.
So How Long Will It Be Before Medical Marijuana Arrives in Alabama? The Date to Watch is September 1, 2022.
With all of the tasks in front of the AMCC, it’s easy to see that this whole process is likely to take some time. Fortunately for Alabamans who are eager to find relief with medical marijuana, we have a pretty good idea of just how much time it’s going to take.
The magic date in SB 46 is September 1, 2022. That’s the date by which the AMCC has to be ready to accept and process applications from cultivators, retailers, and patients. The two legislators most responsible for the passage of SB 46, Representative Mike Ball and Senator Tim Melson, have said they estimate it will be fall of 2022 before residents will be able to get an Alabama Marijuana Card and actually purchase cannabis.
That’s more than a year from now, which may seem like an intolerable wait to those who are suffering with conditions medical marijuana can treat, but think of it this way: Alabama banned marijuana 90 years, meaning almost a century of being without relief is coming to an end in a little more than a year.
You’ve waited this long, so why wait any longer. Begin the process of getting your Alabama Marijuana Card so you’ll be ready to enjoy relief as soon as it’s available to you. Reserve your appointment today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book your appointment once we’re legally able. Not only will you get the relief of medical marijuana more quickly, but you’ll save $25 in the process!
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We hope to help everyone reach better wellness through the safety and convenience of medical marijuana. We focus on education and inclusion in hopes of reducing stigma for our patients through accessible, timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at 833-781-5633 with your questions, or reserve that medical marijuana evaluation now so you can start feeling relief as soon as possible.
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