Yes, cannabis cultivation is legal in Montgomery County but only for medical use as stipulated in Alabama Act 2021-450 which was signed into law in May 2021, thereby creating the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC). The AMCC is the licensing and regulating authority for all medical cannabis businesses, including medical cannabis cultivation. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries also has a set of administrative rules covering medical cannabis cultivation.
Applications for medical cannabis business licenses opened on September 1 and closed on December 30, 2022. These included applications for the medical cannabis cultivator license and the medical cannabis integrated facility license. The integrated facility license authorizes the holder not just to cultivate medical cannabis but also to process and dispense it.
Owners and employees of licensed cultivation and integrated facilities must pass background checks. Both licenses have an application fee of $2,500. The annual cultivator license fee is $40,000 while the annual integrated facility license fee is $50,000. Licensed cultivators and integrated facilities must also maintain liability and casualty insurance of $2 million at the minimum.
The AMCC will only grant 12 medical cannabis cultivator licenses and five medical cannabis integrated facility licenses. As of January 2023, there were 12 applications for the cultivator license and 38 applications for the integrated facility license but no licenses have been issued yet.
A licensed cultivation or integrated facility must grow cannabis indoors. Each plant must be potted separately. Planting directly on the ground is prohibited. Individual potting ensures ease of individual identification tagging for each plant, portability, and avoidance of cross-contamination. All plants must be logged into the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.
The premises of the cultivation or integrated facility must be securely fenced-in, gated, and locked. The premises must be shielded from public sight. There must be a monitored 24-hour security system installed, with continuous video surveillance and alarms. There must be at least one security guard on duty during business hours. Only authorized personnel must be allowed in with their official badges, and their entry and departure must be logged. The purpose of the visit of any guests, their identities, and their arrival and departure must be documented.
Every quarter, at the minimum, each licensed medical cannabis cultivation or integrated facility must have its products tested by an independent laboratory to ensure that these do not contain pesticides or other hazardous chemicals.
Yes, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Montgomery County according to Alabama Act 2021-450. A company needs a medical cannabis processor or integrated license from the AMCC to legally manufacture medical cannabis.
The AMCC will only grant four medical cannabis processor licenses. Applications closed on December 30, 2022. As of January 2023, there were 12 applications for the processor license but no license has been granted yet. The application fee is $2,500 with an annual processor license fee of $40,000. A licensed processor is authorized to manufacture, package, and label medical cannabis products and sell these only to other licensed manufacturers or licensed dispensaries.
The AMCC rules and regulations for processors cover holders of both the processor and integrated licenses. The manufacturing premises must be effectively fenced, gated, and locked. The facilities must be kept out of sight of the general public. A monitored security system must run 24 hours a day with uninterrupted video surveillance and multiple types of alarms. During business hours, at least one security guard must be on duty. Only authorized individuals with official badges should be allowed in, with every entry and exit duly recorded. The reason for any guests' visit, their identification, and their entry and exit must all be logged.
A licensed medical cannabis manufacturing or integrated licensee must ensure that all batches of all its products are consistent, safe, potent, and stable by undergoing testing by an independent state-approved laboratory. All products must also be registered in the state's seed-to-sale tracking system.
All medical cannabis product packaging must comply with the following rules:
The packaging must be tamper-evident and child-resistant.
The packaging must be specifically designed to not be appealing to minors.
The packaging must not have any false claims about the benefits of medical cannabis.
The packaging must include a printed or securely attached label with letters and numbers that are legible in size and quality.
The label must contain the following information:
The processor’s name and license number
The cannabis cultivator’s name and license number
The product name
The product type or form
The product’s lot number and batch number according to the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system
The weight or number of units of the product in the package
The cannabinoid content in the product and its potency
The product’s manufacturing, testing approval, and packaging dates
The product’s expiration date, if any
Any symbol required by the AMCC
Any warnings required by the AMCC
Contact information of the Alabama Poison Control, as stated on the AMCC website.
Yes, the selling of cannabis by retail is legal in Montgomery County. However, Alabama Act 2021-450 limits this to the sale of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by licensed dispensaries and integrated facilities to qualified registered patients and caregivers who hold valid medical cannabis cards. Licensed dispensaries and integrated facilities are subject to the AMCC’s rules and regulations on medical cannabis dispensing.
Local governments are required to establish their own ordinances if they will allow licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in their jurisdictions. No licensed dispensary will be allowed in any municipality that does not have such an ordinance in place. Montgomery City, the lone and capital city in Montgomery County, passed an ordinance on December 7, 2021, allowing this. It was the first city in Alabama to do so.
The AMCC will only grant four medical cannabis dispensary licenses, with each one allowed to operate a maximum of three locations. Applications closed on December 30, 2022. As of January 2023, there were 18 applications for the dispensary license, but no license has been granted yet. The application fee is $2,500 with an annual dispensary license fee of $40,000. A licensed integrated facility is authorized to operate up to five medical cannabis dispensary locations, but each must be in a separate county of Alabama. Any licensed medical cannabis dispensary must be at a distance of 1,000 feet or more from the property line of a childcare facility, daycare, or school.
The licensed medical dispensary is responsible for ensuring that the facility is highly secure. All doors and windows must be locked and unbreachable. The interior of the dispensary must not be visible on the outside. There must be a security guard manning the site during operating hours. A 24-hour monitored security system must be in place with several types of alarms and continuous video surveillance. No one must be allowed to enter except dispensary staff and medical cannabis cardholders, and they must log in and out. Any other guests must be on official business and must likewise be logged.
The licensed medical cannabis dispensary is required to employ a certified dispenser who has at least two years of education in fields related to medicine, nursing, and pharmacology; has passed a training course designed by the AMCC; and is required to undertake annual continuing education under the AMCC. The certified dispenser must be on duty throughout the dispensary’s operating hours and is responsible for ensuring that all sales are compliant.
The licensed medical cannabis dispensary must ask a patient or caregiver to present a valid medical cannabis card and then check this against the online registry to ensure that the amount of medical cannabis to be dispensed will not cause the patient to go over the allowed purchasing limit of a 60-day supply every 60 days.
Licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are not allowed to sell raw materials from cannabis plants, cannabis intended for smoking or vaporization, and food products that contain cannabis. They are allowed to sell tinctures, gels, oils and other liquids intended to be used with inhalers, products to be used with nebulizers, capsules, tablets, suppositories, transdermal patches, and topical creams.
The rules and regulations of the AMCC prohibit the delivery of medical cannabis by a licensed dispensary or integrated facility even to qualified registered patients and caregivers who hold valid medical cannabis cards. Medical cannabis can only be sold legally by retail within the sales areas of licensed dispensaries and integrated facilities.
The transport of medical cannabis is only allowed in the context of the delivery of goods among cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.
According to the AMCC, the registration of patients and caregivers in the state’s Medical Marijuana Program has not yet begun as of January 2023. Physicians can only start to issue certifications once medical cannabis business licenses have been issued.
The qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana certification are:
Cachexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain due to cancer
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Any condition causing seizures
Sickle Cell Anemia
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Spasticity from Multiple Sclerosis or spinal cord injury
Any condition causing chronic or intractable pain
A patient must be a resident of Alabama aged 19 or older and certified to have one of the qualifying conditions by a physician registered with the program. Patients aged 18 and below who are state residents and are certified by a registered physician to have one of such medical conditions must have a registered caregiver.
The sale of medical cannabis has not yet commenced in Montgomery County and the rest of Alabama. According to the AMCC’s 2022 Annual Report, the first medical cannabis business licenses in the state are expected to be issued on June 12, 2023.
Since Montgomery City is allowing the establishment of licensed dispensaries, Montgomery County will benefit from any revenue derived from this. According to officials of Montgomery City in Montgomery County, up to 200 jobs could be created in the city by even one licensed medical cannabis dispensary.
Medical cannabis was legalized in 2021, and as of January 2023, there are still no licensed medical cannabis dispensaries that are operational. As a baseline, however, the latest data from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page shows that in 2019, there were three arrests for marijuana possession in the county. There were also three DUI arrests.