Alabama, the 36th state to legalize medical marijuana, is on the verge of implementing a groundbreaking program. Established by the Alabama legislature during the 2021 session and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) is set to bring relief to patients with qualifying conditions. Here's a rundown of what you need to know.
The AMCC: Who's in Charge?
The AMCC is no small operation. It's composed of fourteen board members appointed by various high-ranking officials, including the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, and others. These board members bring expertise from diverse fields like medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, law enforcement, and mental health.
Their mission? To implement and administer the laws governing medical cannabis in Alabama. This includes making medical cannabis-derived from Alabama-grown plants available to registered qualified patients and licensing facilities that process, transport, test, or dispense medical cannabis. In essence, they're the ones making sure the green medicine reaches those who need it.
The Benefits of Holding an Alabama Medical Card
Alabama's medical marijuana program offers legal protection, access, and savings for cardholders. With recreational use still banned, having a medical card is the only way to access cannabis legally in the state. Here's what you can expect:
- Legal Protection: Possessing a medical card means you won't risk fines or jail time for possessing cannabis.
- Access to Various Forms: Cardholders can legally access a variety of cannabis products, including tablets, capsules, oils, creams, and more.
- Dosing Flexibility: Patients can consume up to 50 milligrams of legal marijuana daily, with an increase to 75 milligrams after three months (pending doctor's recommendation). Terminal patients have no dosage limit.
To qualify for an Alabama medical cannabis card, you must be an adult resident aged 19 or older and have one of the 15 qualifying conditions listed by the state. You'll also need a medical examiner's recommendation and be prepared to pay up to $50 in fees for the first year.
Minors and Medical Cards
Even minors under 19 can get a medical cannabis card in Alabama but with some restrictions. They can access cannabis with less than 3% THC concentration, provided they have a diagnosis for one of the qualifying conditions and an authorized caregiver with a valid card.
The Qualifying Conditions
Alabama recognizes a range of conditions, from chronic pain to epilepsy, that make patients eligible for a medical card. The list includes AIDS/HIV-related symptoms, autism spectrum disorder, cancer-related issues, Crohn's disease, depression, epilepsy, and more.
How to Apply
At least, not yet.
The AMCC website states:
The Alabama’s medical cannabis program is under development and is not registering patients or caregivers at this time. Please check the AMCC website often for program updates.
Once the program launches, adult residents can apply for a medical cannabis card. Here's a brief overview of the application process:
- Consult with a registered certifying physician who is licensed to recommend medical cannabis in Alabama.
- Have the physician complete a patient registration submission with all necessary attestations.
- Submit the required documentation and complete the electronic application within 60 days of the physician's certification.
- Pay the associated fees.
- Wait for registration confirmation and receive your medical cannabis card, which is valid for one year and requires annual renewal.
Getting a medical cannabis card in Alabama comes with associated fees:
- Physical medical cannabis card: $50
- Virtual cannabis card: $40
- Caregiver card (physical): $50
- Caregiver card (virtual): $40
- Annual renewal fees are the same as registration fees.
- Replacement card fees: $25 for physical cards and $20 for virtual cards.
Where Are We Now
Alabama's medical marijuana program is a promising step forward, offering relief and hope for those suffering from qualifying conditions. Unfortunately, the hold-up came after a judicial stay was placed on the process for an undetermined amount of time. Stay tuned for updates as the program continues to develop.
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