Alabama Releases Rules for Physicians to Prescribe Cannabis

New draft rules released last week by regulators in Alabama offer a glimpse of how and when physicians in the state may recommend medical cannabis under the new law. 

The Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners offered up the rules on Thursday for public comment, saying they were “developed in accordance with the state’s new law on medical cannabis, which was approved earlier this year by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor.”

The Board of Medical Examiners said its draft rules “include provisions on the registration and training required for physicians to certify or recommend patients for the use of medical cannabis.”

In May, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation legalizing medical cannabis in the state. The new law took effect immediately, although the allocation of licenses for patients likely won’t be made available until next year.

The draft rules announced last week by the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners say that physicians may recommend medical cannabis for any of the following symptoms or conditions, so long as there is documentation indicating “that conventional medical treatment or therapy has failed unless current medical treatment indicates that use of medical cannabis is the standard of care”: autism spectrum disorder; cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; 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 (ALS); spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or a spinal cord injury; terminal illness; and Tourette’s Syndrome.

The Board of Medical Examiners said that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which is overseeing implementation of the new medical cannabis law, “is addressing other aspects of the new law, such as the licensing of cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries.”

The board will now accept “submissions of data, views, or arguments concerning the proposed rules will be accepted until Jan. 4, 2022,” at which time “the public comment period will be closed, and the Board will consider the comments received and take further action at a subsequent meeting.”

Lawmakers in Alabama passed a bill legalizing medical cannabis in the spring, ending what had been a years-long effort by advocates in the state to get the law passed.

The legislature considered a medical cannabis bill in 2019, but rather than legalize the treatment, lawmakers opted to take a more cautious route, creating a special commission dedicated to studying the policy. At the end of 2019, that commission recommended voted to recommend that the legislature legalize medical cannabis.

The bill finally made it to Ivey’s desk in May, and the GOP governor ultimately added her signature to the legislation a little more than a week after it passed the legislature.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said in a statement at the time. “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.”

Last month, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission said that cannabis likely won’t be available for patients to purchase until next year. 

The Montgomery Advertiser reported at the time that the commission “needed to address other duties, including rulemaking and physician training,” and to address “concerns that further legislative action—required to move the dates—could expose the medical cannabis law to attempts to weaken it.”

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Alabama Announces Medical Cannabis Licenses Won’t Be Available Until 2022

Regulators in Alabama said last week that medical marijuana likely will not be available for purchase in the state prior to 2023.

The Associated Press reported that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission “has plenty to do before people can apply for medical cannabis licenses, so it won’t push for a date that might allow sales next year.” 

The news comes after the regulatory panel had previously said that the start date for sales may be accelerated.

But according to Rex Vaughn, the vice chairman of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, the panel has a full plate. He told the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper that “the group needed to address other duties, including rulemaking and physician training,” while also expressing “concerns that further legislative action—required to move the dates—could expose the medical cannabis law to attempts to weaken it.”

“At this point in time, we decided not to ask the Legislature to go back into digging up a legislative bill and opening it back up,” Vaughn said, as quoted by the Montgomery Advertiser. “We could lose what we’ve got.”

Lawmakers in Alabama passed a bill in May that legalized medical cannabis in the state for patients suffering from more than a dozen different qualifying conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, depression, sickle-cell anemia, terminal illnesses and HIV/AIDS.

The legislation was signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican, about a week later.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said in a statement following the bill signing. “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.”

Getting the bill over the finish line was a multi-year effort for medical cannabis boosters in Alabama. Two years ago, lawmakers there failed to pass legislation that would have legalized the treatment. Instead, the legislature appointed a commission to research the policy via a series of public meetings.

At the end of 2019, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission voted to recommend that lawmakers pursue legislation permitting the treatment. 

The bill never got off the ground last year, but lawmakers got the job this spring. Now, it is down to regulators to put the new law into practice.

The Montgomery Advertiser noted last week that supporters “of the bill had hoped to see medical marijuana available by the fall of 2022,” but because the law only allowed “the commission to accept applications for licenses to grow or distribute medical marijuana on September 1, 2022,” it is “unlikely that any cannabis could be grown, processed and ready for transport before 2023.”

“If you start looking at the timelines for what it’s going to take to get rules and regulations approved, and the growth cycle and the 60 days that people have to get in business after they get the license, it starts adding up,” John McMillian, the executive director of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, said last week, as quoted by the Montgomery Advertiser.

Once physicians are clear to start prescribing, cannabis “would be available as tablets, capsules, gummies, lozenges, topical oils, suppositories, patches and in nebulizers or oil to be vaporized. The law forbids smoking or vaping medical cannabis, or baking it into food,” the Associated Press reported.

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Medical Marijuana Cultivators in Alabama to Start Planting in 2022

The panel tasked with overseeing the implementation of Alabama’s new medical cannabis law will reportedly urge lawmakers to tweak the measure in order to begin the plant cultivation process sooner.

That news comes via AL.com, which said that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission has been in discussions with state legislators “about changing the date to allow cultivators to be licensed sooner, by no later than early 2022.”

Under the current language of the law that was passed and signed earlier this year, individuals can only begin to apply for licenses on September 1, 2022. 

“The time required to grow the plants, which will be raised in greenhouses, is 90 to 110 days,” AL.com noted, adding that unless the September 2022 application date is modified, “products could not be available until some time in 2023.”

Alabama lawmakers passed the bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state in May. The legislation was signed into law later that month by Republican Governor Kay Ivey. After signing the bill, Ivey cited the work of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which was charged with investigating the policy, as a factor behind the measure’s success.

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said in a statement released at the time. “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.”

The new law permits physicians in Alabama to recommend cannabis treatment to patients suffering from conditions such as seizures, spasticity associated with certain diseases or spinal cord injuries, anxiety or panic disorder and terminal illnesses.

The passage of the law in deep red Alabama was hailed as a triumph by advocates, who earlier this year saw Virginia become the first state in the American south to legalize recreational pot use for adults. 

“This measure is an important first step for Alabamans. As written, this program is limited in its ability to sufficiently address the real-world needs of patients—many of whom receive maximum benefit from inhaling cannabis flower rather than oral formulations, which are often far slower acting and more variable in their effects,” Carly Wolf, the state policies manager for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said in a statement in May after Ivey signed the bill into law. 

“Furthermore, we reject the notion that cannabis should be a treatment of ‘last resort.’ That said, this law begins the process of providing Alabamans, for the first time, with a safe, legal and consistent source of medicine. In the coming months and years, we anticipate and hope that lawmakers will continue to expand this access in a manner that puts patients’ interest first.”

The passage of the medical marijuana law was particularly satisfying for Tim Melson, a Republican state senator who for years has tried to legalize the treatment in Alabama. 

In February, Melson once again introduced legislation to legalize medical cannabis, something he had done previously as well.

The 2019 bill put up by Melson sought to establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which held hearings and studied the issue. In December of 2019, the commission, with Melson serving as the chair, voted to recommend legalizing medical marijuana.

After the bill was signed into law earlier this year, Melson, a medical doctor, noted that he and other advocates had to win some colleagues over.

“The hardcore people that were against it,” Melson said, as quote by local TV station WHNT. “The on-the-fence people, when they started hearing people’s stories and success stories, I think they got swayed. Once you have a family member that needs it and you’ve seen the benefit, or a friend, then it’s easier to vote for it.”

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State by State Cannabis Legislation – What’s Legal Now and Where?

Throughout the country, cannabis regulations are changing every day. Some areas are experiencing more dramatic legislative upgrades than others, but every little step forward still counts. At the moment, there are 5 states that come to mind because, one, they are making big moves, or two, they are conservative states that most people were expecting would hold on to prohibition for much longer.

This week we’re focusing on the East Coast and Deep South, with updates from Connecticut, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. To learn more about cannabis legislation, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, where you will get all the latest news as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.


Connecticut

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D), along with other state lawmakers, just reached a compromise on an adult-use cannabis bill that will likely be implemented in late spring of 2022. The bill would finally lay the groundwork for retail sales to launch in the state. According to estimates from MJBizDaily, the Connecticut recreational market could exceed $250 million in sales in just the first year, and reach a total of roughly $725 million by the fourth year.

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Senate Bill 1118 has only just been drafted, however, and it still needs to a pass votes in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Opponents may still try to interfere, which could result in Gov. Lamont calling a special session on the issue this summer. It’s hard to say whether that will also delay the launch of recreational sales or not.

One of the major points in this agreement is offering priority licensing status to social equity applicants. According to the bill text, to qualify as a social equity applicant, the individual will need to have spent the last five out of ten years living in a “disproportionately impacted area, as defined by a jobless rate above 10% or a historically high drug conviction rate. Municipalities would be limited to one marijuana retailer and one micro-cultivator per 25,000 residents until July 1, 2024.”

Tennessee

Tennessee is a relatively conservative state, but the influx of new residents from blue states along the east and west coasts might be having an impact already. Last month, Republican Governor Bill Lee passed a limited medical cannabis bill that would lead to many changes in the way businesses operate within the state.

Once implemented, the bill will legalize possession of CBD oil containing up to 0.9 percent THC for approved medical patients. This is three times higher than the federal government’s cutoff of 0.3 percent. Additionally, the enacted bill would expand on the current list of qualifying conditions by adding the following diseases and disorders: Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, cancer, inflammatory bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease.

People would need to keep proof of their medical conditions with them at any time they are in possession of the cannabis oil. Additionally, there is still nowhere to legally purchase these products in the state. So, although it will be legal to possess now, it will have to be obtained illegally or out of state. Further legislation will be needed to regulate the manufacture and distribution of cannabis products.

Louisiana                    

Louisiana’s medical cannabis program has faced harsh criticism from industry advocates for making it nearly impossible for patients to access product. Over regulation combined with high prices, limited cultivation licenses (only 2 issued statewide) meant that patients numbers were extremely low, and as such, so were profits.

However, the program should see a major jump in registration starting next year, when House Bill 391 is enacted and dispensaries will be permitted to sell smokable flower. In many established markets, flower accounts for roughly 50 percent of total sales and recent surveys show the demand for smokables is high in Louisiana.

As is standard, patients will have a purchasing limit, although it will fairly lenient allowing up to 2.5 ounces (70 grams) every 14 days. Qualifying conditions include cancer, positive status for HIV, AIDS, cachexia or wasting syndrome, seizure disorders, epilepsy, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, post traumatic disorder, and some symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder.

Cannabis Legislation – Alabama

Last month, Governor Kay Ivey officially signed into law the medical marijuana bill that we’ve been tracking, making Alabama the 37th state in the U.S. to legalize medical cannabis. Patients with qualifying health conditions – which include cancer, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder, chronic pain, or any chronic illness – will be permitted to register for the state’s medical program.

After signing Senate Bill 46, Gov. Ivey released this statement: “Signing SB 46 is an important first step. I would like to again thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their willingness to address the legitimate concerns. This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied.”

“On the state level,” he added, “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.”

Mississippi

Interestingly, Mississippi is really where it all began, considering that University of Mississippi won the very first grant to cultivate and study medical cannabis back in 1968. Despite that, the laws for consumers have been less than progressive until recently.

Last week, Senate lawmakers discussed the potential of medical cannabis legalization within the state, but unless Governor Tate Reeves (R) calls a special session. It still seems promising that changes will happen before the end of the year, with Reeves telling Biloxi TV station WLOX that it is “imperative that a medical marijuana law be passed to support the will of the voters.”

The initiate is business friendly but also gives some power to municipalities should they want to utilize zoning restrictions to opt of medical cannabis programs. There is also some opposition to the proposed purchasing limits of 2.5 ounces every 14 days, which some conservatives say is “too generous” and should be lowered.

Cannabis Legislation – Final Thoughts

Progressive legislation has also been moving forward in states which have already legalized or decriminalized cannabis, such as Nevada and New Mexico. There have also been notable changes in some of the nation’s strictest states, like Wyoming, Texas, Idaho and Kansas. For more updates, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter, for all the latest news as well as access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products.

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

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).

Are you a cannabis aficionado who would like to learn more this incredible plant, about the best terpenes for sleep, or to gain access to exclusive deals on flowers and other products? If so, make sure to subscribe to The CBD Flowers Weekly Newsletter for the best of the best that this industry has to offer.


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.

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.

The post Alabama Set To Become the 37th State To Legalize Medical Cannabis appeared first on CBD Testers.

Friday, April 16, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 16, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Alabama Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill That Already Passed The Senate Heads To House Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// Idaho Republicans tried to block any future marijuana legalization. How’d it turn out? (Idaho Statesman)

// 69 Percent Of Americans Now Support Legalizing Marijuana- An All-Time High Quinnipiac Poll Finds (Marijuana Moment)


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// Dispensary Owner Says Fred Meyer Refused to Accept Her Electric Bill Payment (Willamette Week)

// D.C. Dispensaries Welcome Looser Restrictions On Cannabis Classes (Outlaw Report)

// TILT Holdings Q4 Revenue Expands 8% Sequentially to $42.3 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// New Study Suggests More Testing For Psilocybin Depression Treatments (Green Market Report)

// New York could establish weed-supply advantage over New Jersey (Crain’s New York)

// Limited Tennessee Medical Marijuana Bill Heads To Senate Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// The Cannabis Industry Remembers Steve Fox (Forbes)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, April 15, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Schumer Says It’s Time To End Federal Cannabis Prohibition (Gothamist)

// California Bill To Legalize Possession Of Psychedelics Clears Second Senate Committee (Marijuana Moment)

// Wisconsin Governor ‘Tired’ Of Marijuana Revenue Going To Illinois Next Door (Marijuana Moment)


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// Sixth Minnesota House Committee Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill On Its Path To The Floor (Marijuana Moment)

// Swap the crop? New York hemp farmers eager to grow marijuana

// Jushi Buying Dalitso Facility For $22 Million (My Journal Courier (AP)) (Green Market Report)

// Valens Q1 Revenue Increases 25% Sequentially to C$20 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Alabama Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Closer To Floor Vote With House Committee Action (Marijuana Moment)

// Neighbor states give Illinois $10 million in cannabis taxes every month (Leafly)

// With State Law Against Drug Possession Overturned Washington Governor Frees 15 People From Prison (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Shutter Ferret/Flickr