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Gov. Kay Ivey signs Alabama’s medical marijuana bill


Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill that will allow Alabamians to use medical marijuana products for more than a dozen conditions and symptoms such as chronic pain, depression, seizures, muscle spasticity, and terminal illnesses.


The bill, Senate Bill 46, sets up a system to regulate medical marijuana from the cultivation of the plants, to processing and testing the products, to selling them in dispensaries.


Doctors will be able to recommend medical cannabis for patients who will receive medical cannabis cards to buy tablets, capsules, gel cubes and other forms of medical cannabis products. .


Raw plant material, products that could be smoked or vaped, or food products such as cookies or candies will not be allowed.


Alabama becomes the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Ivey thanked the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, and Mike Ball, R-Madison, and called the bill an important first step.


“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said. “On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.


“As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe, and responsible operation in Alabama.”


Melson, an anesthesiologist and medical researcher, first offered the bill in 2019. That led to establishment of a Medical Cannabis Study Commission that held public hearings and recommended the legislation.


Support for the bill grew this year and it passed with bipartisan support by roughly a two-to-one margin.


Melson said Alabamians should be able to try medical marijuana for conditions and symptoms not helped by conventional medications. He said the research overall and and experiences in other states makes the case for that.


Officials have said it will be more than a year before medical marijuana products are available in Alabama. It will be a fully intrastate system. The new law creates the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which will issue licenses to cultivators, processors, transporters, testing laboratories, and dispensaries.


The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will regulate the cultivators.


The bill says the commission must set up the rules to implement the program and allow people to begin applying for licenses by Sept. 1, 2022.


The Medical Cannabis Commission would set up a database to keep track of doctor certifications, patient registrations, medical cannabis cards, daily dosages and types of medical cannabis recommended by doctors, the dates and amounts of products sold to patients at dispensaries. Access to the information in the database would be limited to doctors, dispensaries, and pharmacists, as well as to law enforcement for investigations.


What’s in Alabama’s medical marijuana bill?


Here’s the full list of conditions that would qualify for a medical marijuana regulation from a doctor:


“As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe, and responsible operation in Alabama.”


Melson, an anesthesiologist, and medical researcher, first offered the bill in 2019. That led to the establishment of a Medical Cannabis Study Commission that held public hearings and recommended the legislation.


Support for the bill grew this year and it passed with bipartisan support by roughly a two-to-one margin.


Melson said Alabamians should be able to try medical marijuana for conditions and symptoms not helped by conventional medications. He said the research overall and experiences in other states make the case for that.



What’s in Alabama’s medical marijuana bill?

Here’s the full list of conditions that would qualify for a medical marijuana regulation from a doctor:


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 and 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.


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