Alabama Medical Marijuana Card
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If you currently live in Alabama, you’ve probably noticed that the rules and regulations for medical marijuana in your state have been changing recently. As these changes occur, it’s important to understand what the guidelines are so you are able to stay on the right side of legal when it comes to marijuana usage.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Alabama?
Yes, medical marijuana is legal in the state of Alabama. In February 2021, the Alabama government overwhelmingly approved SB 46, which allows patients with certain medical conditions to safely and legally acquire medical marijuana.
While this law is a step in the right direction for those in favor of decriminalization of marijuana, there are still some hang-ups that people have when it comes to the specifications of how medical cannabis is handled in Alabama.
Alabama Medical Marijuana Program
When medical marijuana was legalized in Alabama, the state government also established the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. This is the official board that handles the decisions and implementations of medical marijuana throughout the state of Alabama.
The ultimate goal for this board is to help the correct patients and distributors get their hands on Alabama-grown cannabis. The AMCC has currently decided that the legal forms of medical marijuana include tablets, capsules, tinctures, oils, creams, gels, suppositories, patches, nebulizers, and inhalers.
Currently, it is not legal to smoke marijuana in the state of Alabama, even for medical purposes. Edibles are also currently illegal in all forms.
According to the AMCC’s FAQ page, medical marijuana is not currently available in the state, meaning that they are still working on getting the program up and running. However, it’s important to still know the ins and outs of the state laws, so you’re ready when the products become available in September 2022.
Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Alabama
In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card in Alabama, one must be diagnosed with a qualifying condition. As of now, the list of qualifying medical conditions includes:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Chronic pain (only if it’s not controlled by opioids first)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- HIV or AIDS
- Panic disorder
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Persistent nausea
- Spinal cord injuries
- Various terminal illnesses
- Tourette’s Syndrome
As seen above, requirements for some of these qualifications include the need to try opioids for the symptoms first, per Alabama state law. This isn’t required if the condition isn’t recommended to be treated with opioids.
If the patient has one of these conditions and is 19 or older, they can begin the process of applying for a medical marijuana card. If the patient is under 19, they must designate a caregiver who will be the card holder on the patient’s behalf.
Can a Doctor Prescribe Medical Marijuana in Alabama?
The simple answer to this question is that, yes, doctors will be able to prescribe medical marijuana in Alabama. However, the full answer is a bit more complicated than that.
In order to be able to prescribe medical marijuana, doctors will have to obtain an annual certification from the state board of medical examiners. The process to do this can be extensive because there are many steps and qualifications that must be met:
-Complete an application
-Doctors must be licensed to practice medicine in Alabama and must have been in practice for no less than three years (one year if certified by the medical board).
-Must obtain an Alabama Controlled Substance Certificate
-Be registered through the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Alabama Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and the Alabama Medical Cannabis Registry System.
-Must complete a four-hour education course on medical marijuana, then pass an exam
-Pay a $300 application fee
The application will then be reviewed by the Board of Medical Examiners. If your application is denied, you have 30 days to petition the board concerning the denial.
If a doctor is approved to prescribe medical marijuana, they have annual renewals they must take part in by the end of the calendar year every year. These renewals include:
-Complete a renewal application
-Confirm registrations with the DEA, the Alabama Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, and the Alabama Medical Cannabis Registry System are valid.
-Complete a two-hour refresher course on medical marijuana
-Pay a $200 application renewal fee
There are some concerns that the rules and requirements involved will turn many doctors away from becoming licensed to prescribe medical cannabis in Alabama when it becomes available in the fall of 2022.
Concerns have also been raised over the fact that doctors are required to try opioid treatments for many qualifying conditions first because of the growing opioid epidemic in the country. Because of these concerns, many believe it will be hard to get doctors to sign up to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.
Growing Medical Marijuana License in Alabama
If someone is interested in growing medical marijuana in Alabama, they would need to go through the process to obtain a cultivator license through the AMCC. The cultivator license gives the person licensed permission to legally grow cannabis as well as sell or transfer it to both a processor and a dispensary.
Currently, only 12 cultivator licenses will be allowed in the state, with three of them being required to go to business entities more than 50% owned by a minority. To apply to be one of the 12 cultivators for Alabama, applicants have to pay a non-refundable application fee of $2,500. Other requirements include:
-Applicants must pass a background check
-No one who has a felony or drug-related conviction in the last ten years may cultivate
Once the application is submitted, there is a 30-day period where the AMCC will accept and consider any written comments regarding the applicant, which can be used to reject an application if deemed necessary.
Dispensaries in Alabama
Currently, there are no dispensaries open in Alabama, so that may have citizens wondering how dispensaries can be opened in their state. In order to apply to open a dispensary, a non-refundable application fee of $2,500 must be paid. If the application is approved, there will be a license fee of between $10,000 and $50,000.
As of now, there will only be four dispensing licenses given for the state of Alabama, with each license being allowed up to three locations. With such a small amount of licenses allowed, it’s important to get your application in as soon as possible if you want to be considered.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Alabama
Since the AMCC doesn’t have the Alabama Medical Cannabis Patient Registry up and running currently, medical card applications are not being accepted. Some of the steps are still unclear for how Alabama citizens will obtain a medical marijuana card, but there are some steps and requirements that are known.
Those who have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition and are 19 or older will be eligible for a medical marijuana card. If the patient is younger than 19, they will go through the same process but have to have a designated caregiver who will handle the card for them.
First, the patient will need to visit a licensed physician in the state who is allowed to make the recommendation for medical marijuana. Once you have that recommendation, the patient will send their application to the AMCC. When the availability of medical marijuana becomes closer, the website and mailing address for applications will become available.
Currently, it’s unknown how long the application turnaround time will be, but you should expect to have to wait a few weeks to receive your medical marijuana card. It’s also unknown how much the application will cost, but the suggestion has been no more than $65. However, that doesn’t cover any cost for the doctor visit required to get the recommendation.
Finally, it hasn’t been decided how long the cards will be valid, though the period is typically one year for other states.
Cardholders will be allowed to possess up to 70 doses of medical marijuana over a 12-month period, with each dose containing 50mg of THC. Terminally-ill patients may be allowed up to 75mg of THC daily, but they will have their driver’s license suspended while prescribed the higher dose.
With medical marijuana only recently becoming legal in Alabama, it’s important to stay up to date with the rules and regulations as they become more clear. There is still a lot that isn’t known about how the medical cannabis card process will work in the state, though the clock is ticking on the allotted time the AMCC has to get everything in order.
The law that legalized medical marijuana states that the AMCC only has until September 1, 2022, to have the whole organization set up and ready to go. As that date gets closer, Alabama residents should expect to start seeing more information about the specifics of the program.
Many citizens of Alabama feel the medical marijuana laws are much stricter for them than in other states. However, only time will tell if the higher restrictions will prove beneficial or harmful as Alabama begins allowing the legal use of medical cannabis.