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  • D. H. Reilly

“It’s at Least Going to be the Fall of ‘23”: Alabama’s Medical Marijuana Program Hits Delays

The good news is that relief is on the way for patients who get an Alabama Marijuana Card. The bad news is that it won’t be coming as soon as we’d expected.

According to Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission Executive Director John McMillan, the earliest medical marijuana products are expected to be available in the Yellowhammer State is the fall of 2023, a later ETA than one McMillan presented just a week before.

Even worse, McMillan said further delays might develop, and that the ETA could be pushed back to 2024!

Still, McMillan said the commission is working diligently to avoid that outcome, and he also pointed out that predictions are difficult to make in a brand new market.

Alabama Cannabis Director Predicted Medical Marijuana Would be Available in Spring 2023

At the June 9 meeting of the commission, Director McMillan had said, “It’s going to be sometime probably mid to late spring next year, best case, to have products available.”

McMillan had based that prediction on a timeline released during the meeting, which predicted that the rules would be in place to process applications from marijuana businesses by September 1, the deadline imposed by the state’s medical cannabis law. Now however, he says that the commission should still make its September 1 deadline, but medical marijuana products will come later than he’d expected.

Cannabis Commission Director Says Medical Marijuana Will be Here in Fall of 2023

McMillan said there are two big challenges when it comes to estimating the arrival of medical marijuana here. First, the state has never had a medical marijuana program here, and so he and the commission are dealing with a lot of new scenarios that they’d failed to predict. Second, McMillain said recent volatility throughout markets, such as supply chain problems, makes prognostication extra difficult.

“It’s just hard to say because some of these things we are not certain about,” McMillan told the Alabama Media Group, “but it’s at least going to be the fall of ‘23 I would say at this point.”

“There’s still a bunch of variables and unknowns out there that we’ve got to deal with,” McMillan added. “I’m convinced I was too optimistic in hoping we could get something going sooner.”

McMillan even conceded the possibility that there would be more unforeseen delays, pushing medical marijuana’s availability here back to 2024.

“It’s conceivable, but we’re going to do our best to get it done just as soon as we can,” he told the Alabama Media Group.

Deja Vu All Over Again: Cannabis Commission Director Predicted Earlier Start to Program Once Before

This isn’t the first time that the commission predicted an early arrival for medical marijuana only to later retract that guess and offer a later one.

In September of 2021, the commission said their work was proceeding so smoothly that they were considering asking the legislature to move up the September 2022 deadline for accepting applications from cannabis businesses.

At that time, commission Vice-Chair Rex Vaughn told the Alabama Media Group that the request would mean crops could be planted and harvested sooner, expediting the availability of medical marijuana here.

“It may allow us to grow a crop in 2022,” Vaughn said. “That is our game plan right now.”

“They just didn’t think that the commission, our commission would move as fast as we’ve moved. We’ve gotten organized,” Dr. Steven Stokes, the chairman of the commision, said at the time.

October 1, 2021: Alabama Cannabis Commission Announces Delays for the First Time

But less than a month later, McMillan revised that deadline in comments to the Montgomery Advertiser given after the commission’s October 1, 2021, meeting.

“If you start looking at the timelines for what it’s going to take to get rules and regulations approved, and the growth cycle and the 60 days that people have to get in business after they get the license, it starts adding up,” McMillan said.

Medical Marijuana Still Coming Soon to Alabama

Despite this latest delay, things are still moving along swiftly for the state’s nascent medical marijuana program. And while that may not be how it appears to people who have been suffering, waiting for years for Alabama to join the 21st century and embrace medical marijuana, more objective viewers can see how quickly things are moving.

As the National Law Review put it, “Your perspective depends on where you sit. For many, it feels like Alabama’s medical cannabis program has been a work in progress for years. Others, joining the party by the day, are energized by its newness.”

The National Law Review noted that the commission looks likely to hit its September 1 deadline for accepting applications to the state’s medical marijuana program, but agreed with McMillan that products wouldn’t be here until later than was expected.

“Sources in the commission have told us that the commission anticipates issuing licenses in February 2023,” the National Law Review reports. “Once licenses are issued, medical marijuana growers can begin growing. But, because it takes three to four months for a crop to be ready for processing, medical marijuana dispensaries won’t have a product to sell until Summer or Fall 2023.”

“I Want Something Done Yesterday”: Cannabis Commission Director Sympathizes With Patients Desperate for Relief

McMillan told the Alabama Media Group that he understands why patients who have been waiting years for medical marijuana are impatient for its arrival here. He said that the commission has been receiving daily queries through its website from Alabamans asking about the ETA on cannabis.

“Our number one concern and challenge is getting our patients some relief in the case of chronic pain, or cancer, Parkinson’s,” McMillan said. “Those seem to be the main things people are interested in right now.

“And then with youth you’ve got the seizure issue and some of those kind of things that people are mighty anxious about. You know how folks are when something is wrong with their children. Put me in that crowd, too. I want something done yesterday.”

Don’t Wait Any Longer Than Necessary for Medical Marijuana. Let Us Help You Get Started Today!

Alabama, you’ve waited long enough for the safe, natural relief of medical marijuana. Why wait any longer than you have to?

Reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors. We’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to, and you and your new doctor will discuss your conditions and whether you qualify for an Alabama Marijuana Card. And if you make your reservation online today, you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!


Doctors Who Care.

Relief You Can Trust.

At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.

If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!

Check outAlabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.

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