Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Alabama

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Alabama

Alabama medical marijuana cards offer legal protection for cardholders for possessing marijuana within acceptable limits.

Legal Protection

An Alabama medical marijuana card legally protects the cardholder from prosecution for possessing and purchasing medical cannabis within approved limits in the state. A registered qualified patient aged 19 or older may not be prosecuted for unlawful possession of up to 70 daily dosages of medical cannabis as determined by the certifying physician. With recreational cannabis illegal in the state, medical cannabis patients are advised to carry their medical marijuana cards with them whenever they are in possession of medical marijuana.

Note that possessing marijuana without a valid medical cannabis card is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison or a $6,000 fine. Persons convicted of possessing marijuana other than for personal medical use may face a felony and up to 10 years in jail and a $15,000 fine.

Reciprocity

If you have an Alabama medical cannabis card, you may be able to use it to purchase medical cannabis in states that allow for medical marijuana reciprocity. Hence, if you happen to be outside the state, you may still retain access to medical cannabis supplies required to treat an approved medical condition. Some states allowing medical marijuana patients from other states to purchase and use medical cannabis in their jurisdictions include Nevada, Utah, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Maine, and the District of Columbia.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Alabama

Some disadvantages of possessing an Alabama medical cannabis card include potential gun loss rights, driving restrictions, and employment restrictions.

Firearm Prohibition

With Alabama abiding by federal law per gun rights, holding an Alabama medical cannabis card would mean that the cardholder forfeits their gun rights. Under federal law, medical marijuana users are considered unlawful marijuana users and are not allowed to own or purchase firearms.

Driving Restrictions

Unlike for driving while under the influence of alcohol, Alabama does not have a specific limit for how much THC in a person's system makes the individual dangerous behind the wheel. Still, being a medical marijuana user or possessing medical cannabis while driving opens you up to the risk of being arrested by law enforcement for drugged driving. A first offender for drugged driving may be punished with imprisonment for up to 12 months, a fine of no less than $600 but no more than $2,100, or both. The offender's driver's license may also be suspended for 90 days.

Commercial driving licensees who test positive for marijuana or THC may have their licenses revoked even if they have their medical cannabis cards. Federal laws govern CDL licenses and they prohibit marijuana use, even for medical purposes.

Annual Renewal

There are certain costs associated with maintaining an Alabama medical cannabis card. Renewing a physical Alabama medical cannabis card costs $50 while renewing a virtual medical cannabis card costs $40. This excludes the consultation fee the recertifying physician may charge for issuing a medical cannabis certification. Typically, recertifying physicians charge between $100 and $200 to issue new certifications. Alabama medical cannabis cards are renewable annually.

Employment Restrictions

The Darren Westley "Ato" Hall Compassion Act, signed into law in May 2021, is favorable to employers in the following ways:

  • Employers retain the right to refuse to hire medical marijuana users whether or not they are impaired from marijuana use
  • Regardless of whether the employee holds a valid medical marijuana prescription, employers may discipline or terminate an employee who tests positive for marijuana even if the individual shows no signs of impairment in the workplace
  • Employees who are medical marijuana users have no right under state laws to demand an employer to accommodate or permit medical cannabis use
  • Employers are allowed to continue enforcing existing drug testing programs or establish new drug testing policies
  • Employers can adopt policies requiring employees to notify them if an employee possesses a medical cannabis card
  • Employers are not required to reimburse employees for the costs associated with medical cannabis use

Federal Prohibitions

Medical cannabis cardholders in Alabama cannot apply for federal employment. This is because marijuana is illegal federally. Federal employees seeking medical marijuana cards in Alabama stand the risk of losing their appointments and being charged with marijuana possession. It is also illegal to cultivate or use marijuana in federally subsidized housing in Alabama, even though medical marijuana is legal in the state. Note that federally subsidized housing is administered by the United States government and is subject to federal laws.

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