On April 15, 2021, an Alabama House committee supported a Senate-passed amendment to regulate medicinal cannabis, returning it to the house. A week after a different panel revised and authorized the act, the House Health Council voted by speech to pursue the measure. On April 14, 2021, the subcommittee debated the bill for the first time and proposed many changes.
People with qualified diseases will be able to obtain cannabis for medicinal uses under the measure. Sen. Tim Melson, the bill’s sponsor, is the same senator who proposed related legislation last year passed by the entire Senate but expired without a vote in the House due to the COVID pandemic.
Patients must be identified with around 20 illnesses to be eligible for the service, including anxiety, sleep disturbances, post-traumatic stress disorder, and intractable discomfort. Regulators will be unable to impose new requirements of their own, leaving the option to legislators.
In last week’s hearing, the House Judiciary Committee authorized ten amendments to the law. Members, for example, voted to scrap laws ensuring mutual recognition for out-of-state patients and reducing the amount of drug tax revenue dedicated to cannabis testing from 30% to 15%.
On April 14, 2021, members of the Health Committee agreed to a move that would impose a yearly licensing fee on doctors who prescribe cannabis. Another would provide access to a patient registration database to the attorney general’s office.
Members also supported a provision to exclude fibromyalgia and menopausal symptoms from the list of qualified diseases and another to increase the number of universities eligible for cannabis testing grants. A revision to provide a consistent taste for all cannabis products was also approved. An agreement was also adopted that would mandate dispensaries to have 24-hour surveillance cameras installed in their buildings.
Since such amendments were made, once the bill is passed in the House, it would be referred back to the Senate for final review before being sent to the legislature’s desk. Advocates say they are excited that medicinal marijuana law is moving forward in Alabama, but they are concerned with certain facets of the law.
The bill also bans the use of raw hemp, cigarettes, vape, and the sale of sweets or baked goods. Instead, patients will be able to buy pills, liquids, suppositories, and topical patches.
Patients must be permitted to buy and obtain up to 70 daily dosages of medicinal cannabis. The cumulative daily dosage was cut from 75 to 50 milligrams due to a Senate floor resolution. However, the bill’s author stated that it could be expanded to 75 milligrams in some cases.
The law would include legal protections to patients, caregivers, and medical cannabis companies, ensuring that they are not penalized for actions that the state has approved.
Physicians will have to undergo a four-hour continuing education program and pass a test before prescribing cannabis to patients. Doctors would be expected to take refresher courses every two years, and the training might cost more than $500.
Regulators will be charged with developing content restrictions and establishing quality management requirements under the bill. Tracking from seed to sale and laboratory testing will be needed. On the other hand, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee, passed a bill last March that would legalize ownership of up to two ounces of marijuana, making it illegal by a $250 fine but not by prison time.
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