Alabama Lawmakers Push to Reset Floundering Medical Marijuana Program

Alabama’s long-awaited medical cannabis program has faced numerous delays and setbacks since being signed into law in 2021. Now, state legislators are taking decisive action to overhaul the licensing process in hopes of finally getting the stalled program operational.

The Alabama Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee recently advanced Senate Bill 306, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson – the original legislator behind the 2021 Medical Cannabis Act. Melson’s new bill calls for essentially restarting the licensing process from scratch by invalidating all previous applicants and licenses issued.

“The commission had one mission, and they have not executed it. I think in the best interest of this program, we need to start from scratch,” Melson stated bluntly, citing the need to correct issues that have plagued the rollout so far.

Under SB 306, a new five-member review panel would vet applicants based on criteria like residency, background checks, business plans, and capital access. Qualifying applicants must then demonstrate ability to quickly establish cultivation and dispensing operations across multiple sites using indoor growing methods.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) would ultimately rank and award a limited number of “integrated facility” licenses to the top-scoring applicants – but only those who initially applied prior to December 2022 would be eligible.

After nearly three years, the AMCC has approved just three licensees out of over 30 applicants amid procedural problems and ongoing litigation that has halted the process. Some cannabis business owners argue restarting is an unnecessary setback, while others support Melson’s push to break the logjam.

Simultaneously, the committee passed a separate bill increasing the maximum number of integrated licenses to 10 and addressing other AMCC rules – though it faces opposition.

With patients still waiting for legal access, Alabama lawmakers are determined to reset and reform the program’s structure to finally deliver medical marijuana statewide after years of costly delays.


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