What Kind of Medical Marijuana Will I be Able to Buy in Alabama?
While there are still a lot of unanswered questions about what the medical cannabis market here will look like when you’re finally able to get an Alabama Marijuana Card, there are a lot of things we know already.
For example, Senate Bill 46, the law creating Alabama’s medical marijuana market, is pretty clear about what forms of marijuana patients will be able to buy from Alabama dispensaries.
As you look at the kinds of marijuana products that you’ll be able to purchase and the kinds that you won’t be able to buy, you might be disappointed at what didn’t make the cut. Well as you read this, keep in mind that it’s easier to modify and expand a medical marijuana market than it is to start one. For example, in 2021 both Texas and Minnesota expanded their programs.
So keep in mind there is nothing but good news here. Soon, you’ll finally have access to safe, legal medical marijuana, and down the road you may be able to get it in your preferred form.
Forms in which You Will Not be Able to Buy Marijuana
Even though there’s no bad news here, let’s start with the bad news. There are several popular ways patients use marijuana that are currently forbidden under SB 46. And the first one on the list has been the most popular way to use cannabis for thousands of years.
Raw Flower Medical Marijuana Banned in Alabama
Besides tradition, people often prefer to buy their marijuana in raw, flower form for smoking or vaping because it’s more affordable. In fact, the addition of flower to Minnesota’s medical marijuana market is expected to quadruple participation in a program that has struggled due largely to high prices.
Because flower marijuana hasn’t been processed, it costs less to produce and therefore costs less to buy. Both smoking and vaping flower also deliver effects more quickly than other methods, such as edibles or pills.
Unfortunately, SB 46 doesn’t stop at banning flower marijuana. It also explicitly bans “Any product administered by smoking, combustion,
No Eating Your Way to Relief: Marijuana Edibles Prohibited by SB 46
SB 46 also says that buying “A food product that has medical cannabis baked,
mixed, or otherwise infused into the product, such as cookies or candies” is a no-no.
And once again that might disappoint some marijuana patients, as if a spoonful of sugar helps medicine go down, just imagine what an entire brownie can do.
But the taste and convenience of marijuana edibles aren’t the only benefits to dosing this way. Marijuana edibles make it easy to get a precise dose of your medication. They can also offer longer lasting relief than some other forms of marijuana.
Fortunately, there are some edible options under SB 46 for using medical marijuana. The law allow for medicine to be administered via “Non-sugar coated gelatinous cube, gelatinous rectangular cuboid, or lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape.”
And while none of those forms sound particularly appetizing, they are odor free, offer longer lasting relief than many other forms, and can make precise dosing easier.
Precise dosing is easier, that is, with a little practice. As Dr. Andrew Talbott, medical advisor to the Utah-based medical marijuana advocacy group TRUCE, explains, the effects of edibles are delayed, and new users may believe that their medication isn’t working and take an additional dose before the first one kicks in, leaving them over medicated.
Looking on the Bright Side: Legal Forms of Medical Marijuana in Alabama
There are still plenty of popular, and some not-so-popular, forms in which to take medical marijuana that SB 46 allows. The first groups of options, like edibles, are administered orally, and can offer some of the same advantages.
Tablets, Capsules, Tinctures, and Gelatinous Cubes—Oh My!
Sb 46 allows for medical marijuana to be administered via “Oral tablet, capsule, or tincture.” Like edibles, all of these forms are taken orally. That makes precise dosing easier, and it means none of the odor and potential respiratory harm of smoking or vaping.
We’ll assume all of you get the idea of oral tablets and capsules, but for some tinctures might need a little explanation. Tinctures are “concentrated herbal extracts made by soaking the bark, berries, leaves (dried or fresh), or roots from one or more plants in alcohol or vinegar.” Tinctures are also made using an oil base.
The alcohol or vinegar pulls out the active ingredients in the plant parts, concentrating them as a liquid.
Medical marijuana doctors frequently favor tinctures, because like edibles they are long-lasting and easy on the lungs, but they aren’t absorbed through the digestive tract, making them easier on the stomach. Furthermore, they often come in formulations that are CBD-focused, meaning they offer a milder experience than some other forms of medical marijuana.
Traditionally, tinctures have been alcohol based, and if raw flower were legal in Alabama, you could even make your own at home by soaking marijuana in high-proof alcohol and straining out the solids.
But be they alcohol or oil based, tinctures are taken either sublingually or by swallowing them with some food or drink.
When taking a tincture sublingually, squeeze the measured dose out of the dropper underneath your tongue, and hold it there for about a minute before moving on or swallowing. When you do this, the active ingredients in the tincture absorb directly into your bloodstream and start taking effect within about 20 minutes or less.
Let it Get Under Your Skin: Gels, Oils, Creams, and Patches
SB 46 also allows for administering medical marijuana topically, in the form of gels, creams, and transdermal patches.
In addition to being easy on the lungs and stomach, topical cannabis offers the benefit of targeted relief. Cancer patients, for example, can use topical creams on their hands or feet to reduce the tingling sensation derived from chemotherapy treatments. And all patients can use topicals to directly treat specific areas of their bodies, making this a favorite dosing method among chronic pain patients.
A Breath of Fresh Medicine: You Can Dose Medical Marijuana Through Your Lungs, Just Not by Smoking
While you cannot smoke or vaporize your medicine under SB 46, you can take it in through your lungs via an inhaler or nebulizer. Both options deliver the medication through the lungs, making them easy on the stomach, but they do so without some of the health concerns associated with smoking and vaporizing.
The oils often used for vaping medical marijuana can contain residual solvents or, in the case of solventless extracts, large amounts of whole plant material. That means there will always be minute parts of the extract that will be undesirable for consumption, though typically safe in extremely small numbers.
Although vaporizing offers one of the healthiest alternatives to smoking cannabis, vapes are also one of the more complex products to properly dose. Often, concentrates are burned at a temperature that is far too high for their intended use, causing combustion of materials as a way to achieve larger volumes of smoke.
All these problems vanish with inhalers and nebulizers, because there is no possibility of combustion, and the ingredients are natural cannabinoids only. There’s no residual solvents because there typically aren’t any solvents.
Marijuana Suppositories Will Also be Legal in Alabama
We don’t have anything more to say about this option. We thought we’d just stick it in at the end.
It Doesn’t Matter What Form Your Relief Comes in, Just so You’re Getting Relief
If you’re curious about how medical marijuana might help you, and about which form of the medicine would best relieve your conditions, why not take your first step to finding out about the safe, natural relief only cannabis can offer?
Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll make an appointment for you with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable doctors just as soon as Alabama’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your doctor virtually, using your smartphone, tablet, or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You’ll discuss whether you qualify for an Alabama Marijuana Card, and learn what medical marijuana might be able to do for you. 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 the 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 out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.