Tuesday May 18, 2021
The state of Alabama has joined 36 other states in legalizing medical marijuana. Governor Kay Ivey signed SB46, on May 18th, 2021 establishing guidelines to create a state medical cannabis program. The law’s passing marks a significant step in cannabis reform in the South and in conservative states in general, which have traditionally been resistant to advance cannabis legislation. While the measures were indeed met with significant pushback from many Republican lawmakers, the legislation ultimately passed with bipartisan support. Furthermore, many expected Gov. Ivey to make amendments to the proposed bill, however she signed it with no further changes.
What’s in SB46?
The bill takes a hard medical-focused stance. Smoking and vaporizing are not allowed under SB46, as well as baked goods and candy-style edibles. Instead, marijuana preparations will be limited to oral tablets, lozenges, capsules, tinctures, certain types of gummies (or non-sugarcoated gelatinous cubes and gelatinous rectangular cuboids, as they are called in the legislation).
Gels, oils, creams, and other topical preparations such as transdermal patches are also allowed, along with some novel forms of delivery such as nebulizers and inhalers. Though this may seem similar to vaporization, it appears the key difference is a lack of a heating element. Though the overall legislation is considered restrictive, the new bill covers numerous medical conditions:
Qualifying Medical Conditions in Alabama:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- Cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain.
- Crohn's Disease.
- Epilepsy or a condition causing seizures.
- HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss.
- Panic disorder.
- Parkinson's disease.
- Persistent nausea that is not significantly responsive to traditional treatment, except for nausea related to pregnancy, cannabis-induced cyclical vomiting syndrome, or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Sickle Cell Anemia.
- Spasticity associated with a motor neuron disease, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
- Spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis or a spinal cord injury.
- A terminal illness.
- Tourette's Syndrome.
- A condition causing chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective.
Many are conditions that more stringent states have not allowed, such as depression and autism spectrum disorder. While the system may have a way to go to meet the standards of more open medical marijuana programs, reform advocates are hopeful that this marks a good initial step.
When Will Medical Marijuana Be Available in Alabama?
There’s still much to be done before the system is up and operational. Before any other movement can take place, the state must first create and appoint the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the new system and then establish guidelines and systems for doctors, patients, growers, producers, dispensaries, and others. Under SB46, the state has until September of 2022 to finalize regulations.
What are you looking forward to in Alabama’s new medical system? Share in the comments!