When Will it be Legal to Buy Medical Marijuana in Alabama?
It has been nearly three months since SB 46 was passed, legalizing medical marijuana here. So when will you actually be able to buy medical marijuana, or get an Alabama Marijuana Card? Unfortunately, it’s going to be a little more than a year before that happens, but at least there are some good reasons why we have to wait that long.
But the good news is that the end of prohibition is indeed in sight, and the relief that only medical marijuana can offer is on its way to the Yellowhammer State.
September 1, 2022: The Date Medical Marijuana Will be Available in Alabama
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand you can use to create a medical marijuana market. It takes time to design the market, award licenses to cultivators and retailers, create an agency to award Alabama Marijuana Cards, and so on.
All that’s going to take time, but legally it all has to be done by September 1, 2022. That’s the date by which our medical marijuana market has to be up and running, according to the text of SB 46.
And both of the state legislators most responsible for the passage of the bill, Representative Mike Ball and Senator Tim Melson, have predicted it will be some time in the Fall of 2022 before medical marijuana will be available for purchase in Alabama.
But Why the Long Wait for Medical Marijuana in Alabama?
SB 46 has now made it legal for licensed cultivators to grow, licensed retailers to sell, and approved patients to buy medical marijuana. But who licenses those businesses and approves those patients?
The creation of an entirely new market means the creation of new rules and regulations, so it also means the creation of new government agencies and officials to do all of that work.
In the case of the creation of Alabama’s medical marijuana market, the governing body overseeing the process is the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC), which will determine how to license growers and sellers as well as how to administer Alabama Marijuana Cards.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
The final appointments to the AMCC were made last month, and the commission will now begin regular meetings to design Alabama’s medical marijuana market, working in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Industries. And when you consider the complexity of regulating the three major facets of the market - the cultivation of marijuana, the retail distribution of the medicine, and the customers who may purchase it - the fact that it will take more than a year for the AMCC to create the market makes sense.
Growing Pains: The AMCC and Marijuana Cultivators
Before Alabamians can walk into a dispensary and buy some medical marijuana, there have to be rules in place to determine how and by whom that medicine is grown.
And while it may seem like a lot of bureaucratic nonsense - why can’t people just start growing and selling marijuana, SB 46 has made it legal? - these kinds of regulatory safeguards are what make medical marijuana such a safe source of relief.
By law, whatever regulations the Commission develops must help protect public health. If just anyone was able to grow and sell medical marijuana, there’d be no process for ensuring the quality of the product they sell or the exact combination of THC and CBD in that product. For medical marijuana to be as safe and effective as possible, doctors, retailers, and patients need to be confident in the medicinal value of that marijuana, and it’s only by creating oversight policies that they can have that confidence.
Alabamians who illegally purchase marijuana have no way of knowing where their marijuana came from or how pure it is. But with an Alabama Marijuana Card, patients can be confident that what they’re putting in their bodies will only improve their health.
There are a lot of regulations regarding cultivation in SB 46, and you can learn more about those rules here, but there is one rule that most directly affects patients and that illustrates the advantages of a well-regulated medical marijuana market: Cultivators must be in compliance with whatever seed-to-sale system the AMCC creates, so that when you walk out of a dispensary with your medicine in hand, you know that there is an exact record of where, when, and how your medicine was grown. You don’t get that kind of quality control with black market street drugs, and you don’t get it without the long wait it takes to create a medical marijuana market.
What Will Retail Entail: The AMCC and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Even when the medical marijuana market is up and running, you won’t be able to pick up a bag of weed at your local Publix. Only licensed dispensaries will be permitted to sell medical marijuana, and just like those licensed cultivators, it will be up to the AMCC to determine the rules retailers must follow and the process for awarding them licenses.
As with the rules affecting cultivators, SB 46 laid out a lot of the basic rules for overseeing retailers, and you can read more about those here. However, there are two dispensary regulations in the law that are especially relevant to medical marijuana patients.
First, dispensaries also have to cooperate with the seed-to-sale system implemented by the AMCC. There isn’t much value in knowing exactly what is in the medicine being distributed by cultivators if dispensaries can just opt out of ensuring the consistency of the market.
Second, the AMCC must establish training and hiring standards for dispensary employees, so you can be sure you’ll find qualified, competent retailers ready to guide you through the process of finding the right medicines for you.
You Won’t Able to Buy Medical Marijuana without a Card, but Who Will Issue the Cards?
The AMCC must also establish a process for evaluating patients’ applications for Alabama Marijuana Cards, as well as a system for distributing those cards and monitoring their use.
According to SB 46, marijuana cards will only be issued to patients with PTSD, cancer, or any of the more than twelve qualifying conditions that SB 46 recognizes. Patients will also need approval from a state-licensed doctor who has completed a medical marijuana training course, and to pay a maximum $65 fee.
There are plenty more regulations applying to patients, and hoops for them to jump through. You can read more about those requirements here, or check out how Alabama Marijuana Card can handle some of the red tape for you.
The Bad News: You Still Have to Wait for Medical Marijuana. The Good News: You Can Get Started Right Now
So that’s why you’re still going to have to wait more than a year for medical marijuana in Alabama. And while those might be some good reasons, that doesn’t make the wait any shorter.
Fortunately, you can take a step now to ensure you don’t have to wait any longer than is necessary.
Begin the process of getting your Alabama Marijuana Card today, and you’ll be ready for the relief of medical marijuana as soon as it’s ready for you. Reserve an evaluation today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book your appointment just as soon as Alabama’s medical marijuana market is up and running. Not only will you get medical marijuana more quickly, but you’ll save $25 off the cost of your exam!
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 out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.