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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Alabama Set To Become the 37th State To Legalize Medical Cannabis

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Riding the wave of cannabis legalization that has been sweeping the US for the last few years, Alabama is poised to become the 37th state to implement of comprehensive medical cannabis program. Although the bill is still in review, it’s expected to pass based on strong bipartisan support for loosening cannabis restrictions, coupled with the bill’s landslide win in the state legislature (68-34 and 20-9 respectively).

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Summarizing Alabama’s Compassionate Care Act

Point blank, the bill is likely going to pass. That said, let’s take a closer look at some of the main points of Alabama’s medical cannabis proposal.

Qualifying for the Program

  • To legally use and access medicinal cannabis products, patients must apply for and receive a medical cannabis card, which will be granted for one or more of the following medical conditions:
  • Autism; cancer-related pain, nausea, or weight loss; Crohn’s; epilepsy; HIV/AIDS-related nausea; persistent nausea that has not significantly responded to other treatments, with exceptions; PTSD; sickle cell anemia; panic disorder; Tourette’s; Parkinson’s disease; spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, a motor neuron disease, or spinal cord injury; terminal illness; or a condition causing intractable or chronic pain “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective.”
  • The Senate-passed version also includes anxiety, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, and fibromyalgia. The House-passed version includes depression.

Legal Protections

  • Qualifying patients, caregivers, and medical cannabis establishments and their staff are not subject to criminal or civil penalty for actions authorized by the bill.
  • Patients could possess up to 70 daily doses of cannabis (this is vague, and I was unable to find any specific weight limits. Also, no indication whether this is referring to smokable flowers or infused products).
  • Patients generally could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care on the basis of medical cannabis.

Physicians’ Role and Regulation

  • To certify patients, physicians must be authorized to do so by the State Board of Medical Examiners. They must meet qualifications the board establishes. The House version also requires physicians to pay a fee of up to $300 to certify patients.
  • Certifying physicians must complete a four-hour medical cannabis continuing medical education course and complete an exam. The courses can charge up to $500. A two-hour refresher is required every two years.
  • The board will develop rules for certifications including requirements for the patient-physician relationship, detailed requirements for informed consent, and how long a certification may be valid, which may not exceed one year.
  • Certifying physicians must specify daily dosage and type. This would likely require participating doctors to run afoul of federal law. If this is not revised, it would likely dramatically depress participation.

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Limitations and Penalties 

  • The commission will also determine the maximum daily dosage of THC that can be recommended for each qualifying condition. In most cases, it may not exceed 50 milligrams.
  • Raw plant, smoking, vaporization, candies, and baked goods are not allowed. Pills, gelatin cubes, lozenges, oils, suppositories, nebulizers, and patches are.
  • Employers could still drug test and prohibit employees from using cannabis.
  • Patients could not undertake any task while under the influence of cannabis that would be negligent.
  • Cannabis is banned at correctional facilities and schools.
  • Health insurance would not have to reimburse for medical cannabis costs.
  • Cannabis could not be possessed in a vehicle unless it is in its original package, sealed, and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.

Click here for the full bill text.

Final Thoughts – Alabama Medical Cannabis

Once more, this bill has not yet been signed into law, and medical cannabis is not yet legal in Alabama. The governor is continuing to review all the details, and it is expected to pass, so we’ll make sure to update you as soon as it’s signed. For more articles like this and for access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter.

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