The Status of Cannabis Legalization in Alabama
Despite the state’s long and tumultuous history of strict cannabis possession laws, medical marijuana is now legal in Alabama.
On May 17, 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB 46 into law, establishing a medical cannabis program in the Yellowhammer State. SB 46 – otherwise known as the Compassion Act – has made Alabama the 37th state to approve the use of medical cannabis.
The Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act establishes the Alabama Medical Cannabis Registry. This registry keeps track of doctor certifications, patient registration, and medical card information. It also sets dosage guidelines and tracks patient purchases.
The medical marijuana law covers 14 qualifying conditions. Once added to the registry, a patient must renew their medical cannabis certification every 12 months.
Qualified patients cannot purchase raw cannabis material, as smoking and vaping are not legal under the Compassion Act. Edible cannabis products are also illegal to sell, purchase, and consume. Rather, patients may consume cannabis via tablets, capsules, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal patches, nebulizers, liquids/oils for use in an inhaler, and topical products.
The Compassion Act also established the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC). This committee regulates, licenses, and oversees the creation of medical cannabis products. The commission consists of 14 lawmakers with expertise in expertise in a range of fields, including medicine, law enforcement, pharmacy, legal compliance, and mental health.
Currently, the AMCC is in the process of vetting and licensing medical cannabis dispensaries. Because the business license application process is ongoing as of February 2023, dispensaries are likely to begin operations in late 2023 or early 2024.
The 9% tax revenue from Alabama’s medical cannabis industry will go towards regulating the medical marijuana program, and any excess revenue will go towards the state’s general fund and a new Medical Cannabis Research Fund.
In addition, Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin issued a blanket pardon for more than 15,000 closed marijuana convictions dating between 1990 to 2020.
Patients can get certification for a medical cannabis card in Alabama for the conditions below. However, it is important to note that medical marijuana should not be used as the first option to treat these conditions and is available to patients after there is documentation that traditional therapies have been tried, or if the initial medical treatment indicates that medical cannabis use is the standard for care.
Caregivers are allowed in the state of Alabama, with patients’ loved ones allowed to pick up their prescriptions on their behalf. Caregivers must be 21-years-old or older and the parent, legal guardian, or caregiver of a registered minor. Patients under the age of 19 must have their caregiver pick up their prescriptions. Cultivation is illegal in Alabama for both medical and recreational purposes. If found growing cannabis, criminal charges and fines are possible.
At this time, the state is not presently issuing any type of business license to cultivate cannabis.
Still in its infancy, Alabama’s medical cannabis program will take time to grow. Meanwhile, thousands of citizens now have safe and legal access to medical cannabis, which conclusively eases certain conditions in Alabama.
Possession and Cultivation in Alabama
Once the Compassion Act is fully established and medical cannabis is available, you will be able to buy up to 60 daily doses at a time and have up to 70 doses in your possession.
Daily dosages will be initially capped at 50 milligrams of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and can be raised up to 75 milligrams for patients after 90 days of being a part of the medical marijuana program.
Patients with terminal illnesses may be able to receive over 75 milligrams of THC, but they would have to have their driver’s licenses suspended while receiving it.
As the program grows, daily dosages available to patients may be dependent on the qualifying medical condition they have. Minors who qualify for medical cannabis will be unable to use products that have more than 3% THC.
Once medical marijuana is available for purchase in Alabama, you will be able to purchase cannabis tablets, capsules, tinctures, or gel cubes for oral use. Gels, oils, transdermal patches, topical gels and creams, nebulizers, suppositories, and liquids for use in an inhaler will also be available.
Smoking, vaping, and consuming cannabis food products are not legal under Alabama’s medical marijuana law. As such, patients cannot purchase raw cannabis flower.
CBD Oil Program
Alabama already has a formal CBD oil program under Len’s Law, which is legislation that was passed in 2019 to legalize CBD oil containing up to 3 mg of THC. To register for the CBD program, all applications must be submitted to the University of Alabama Birmingham Neurology Department.
To receive a medical license for CBD, a patient must prove they are a resident of Alabama and have a physician’s referral letter based on a qualifying condition. CBD oil costs vary depending on the type and dosage, which can only be sold to those who are a part of the CBD oil program.
With a prescription from a board-certified neurologist, Alabama residents can legally purchase CBD oil in Anniston, Auburn, Birmingham, Clanton, Cullman, Dauphin Island, Dothan, Eufaula, Fairhope, Fort Payne, Gadsden, Gulf Shores, Guntersville, Homewood, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Mountain Brook, Opelika, Orange Beach, Phenix City, Prattville, and Selma Beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Marijuana is only legal for medicinal purposes in Alabama. Only those holding an Alabama cannabis license or certified patients are allowed possession.
Alabama’s medical cannabis program defines 14 conditions that qualify patients for a medical cannabis card.
These conditions include Autism Spectrum Disorder, cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression or anxiety, epilepsy or other seizure conditions, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) related nausea or weight loss, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, persistent nausea not related to pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sickle cell anemia, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal cord injuries, terminal illnesses, Tourette’s syndrome, and
We are not currently helping patients in Alabama to get their medical marijuana cards. However, as Alabama’s medical program continues to develop, you can easily join our waitlist to be notified when we’re booking appointments in your state.
Yes, you must be an Alabama resident to apply for the state’s medical cannabis patient registry. If you are under the age of 18, you will need an adult to register as your caregiver.
No, edible cannabis food products are not legal for sale, purchase, or consumption in Alabama. Additionally, patients cannot smoke or vape cannabis.
Patients may consume cannabis via tablets, capsules, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal patches, nebulizers, liquids/oils for use in an inhaler, and topical products.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is in the process of approving cannabis dispensary licenses. Dispensaries are expected to open in early 2024.