Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Laws – What You Need to Know

A.W. Naves
Medical Cannabis Shops are Coming to AlabamaPhoto byDamian BarczakonUnsplash

Soon, some Alabamians will have access to legally accessible medical cannabis products. Here’s what you need to know about the medical cannabis laws that are currently still being implemented.

When Will Medical Cannabis Be Available?

Though cannabis laws in Alabama were changed in 2021, it has taken time for the state to establish the rules, regulations, and databases required by the new legislation. The exact date when medical cannabis will be available to patients is unclear, but it looks like sometime later this year. Those signing up to grow, distribute, or sell medical cannabis were required to have paperwork filed by the end of 2022 but licenses won’t be distributed before mid-June 2023.

How Will Alabamians Obtain Medical Cannabis?

Under Alabama’s program, only doctors who receive training in medical cannabis will be authorized to recommend medical cannabis products. You’ll need to ask questions about their certification intentions or seek out another doctor who plans to be certified to begin the process of securing a medical cannabis card. If this is a process you have not already begun through ongoing treatment, you should begin a course of action now.

Why now when it won’t be available for months? Here’s the reason. Those looking to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis must have an established relationship with a physician who can provide the following documentation for their case:

  • A qualifying condition
  • A physical exam
  • Evidence that conventional treatments haven’t worked
  • A treatment plan

Once this data has been established, patients aged 19 or older seeking medical cannabis will have to sign a consent form and be entered into a patient registry before being issued a medical cannabis card. Parents will need to request a card as a caregiver for qualifying minors as well as a card for the minor. The state can charge up to $65 for issuing each card. Once the card is received, the patient will be able to purchase medical cannabis at a licensed dispensary.

What Conditions Qualify for Medical Cannabis?

The new Alabama medical cannabis laws list only the following conditions that qualify for medical cannabis.

  • Autism
  • Cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain
  • Crohn’s
  • Depression, epilepsy, or condition causing seizures
  • HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss
  • Panic disorder
  • Parkinson’s
  • Persistent nausea not related to pregnancy
  • PTSD
  • Sickle Cell
  • Spasticity associated with diseases including ALS, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries
  • Terminal illnesses
  • Tourette’s
  • Chronic pain for which conventional therapies and opiates should not be used or are ineffective

What Medical Cannabis Products Are Allowed?

Alabama’s medical cannabis law allows patients up to 50mg of cannabis per day. After three months, your physician can increase your dosage up to a limit of 75 mg. No more than 70 daily doses may be possessed at one time. The only exception to this is for patients who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. There will be no cap on end-of-life medical cannabis.

Allowed Products:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Tinctures
  • Gels, oils, and creams for topical use
  • Suppositories
  • Transdermal patches
  • Nebulizers
  • Liquids or oils for use in an inhaler
  • Gelatin (only one flavor is allowed and peach has been selected)

Products That Are Not Allowed:

  • Raw plant material
  • Products that could be smoked or vaped
  • Food products such as cookies or candies

Health insurers are not required to cover the cost of medical cannabis, so you will need to consult with your provider to see if they plan to include it in your coverage.

Where Will Medical Cannabis Be Available for Purchase?

Initially, licenses will be granted to five integrated facilities. Each will be allowed to cultivate, process, dispense and sell medical cannabis under state law. They will also be able to transport cannabis between facilities and sell or transfer medical-grade cannabis to a dispensary.

In addition to these five facilities, the state will issue up to twelve licenses to cultivators, four licenses to processors, and four licenses to dispensaries (each may operate up to three dispensing sites under this single license). Licenses for secure transportation companies and state testing labs are currently unrestricted in number.

Until licenses are issued and facilities are established, there is no clear information on where dispensaries will be located. However, dispensaries can only be opened in cities, towns, and counties that have authorized them through a resolution or ordinance by a council or county commission, a list of which is available on the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission’s website.

So, though medical cannabis is on its way to Alabama, it is going to be a heavily regulated industry that is still in the making. One important thing you need to know is that the new cannabis laws do not legalize cannabis for non-medical use or any conditions not cited by the state.

Recreational cannabis products have not been decriminalized. Those in possession of cannabis without a valid medical cannabis card or from a source other than licensed dispensaries can still be arrested for possession of an illegal substance per existing laws.

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Freelance Writer. Author. Alabamian. I write about true crimes, unsolved cases, and macabre mysteries.

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