Yes. Alabama Act 2021-450, or the Medical Cannabis Act, has paved the way to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama. The use and possession of medical cannabis are allowed in Shelby County; however, recreational cannabis remains illegal. Therefore, only licensed cultivators can grow marijuana and sell and transfer the plants to a marijuana processor, and personal cultivation at home is not allowed.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) may issue either an integrated facility license or a cultivator license to entities approved to grow marijuana plants in the state. The commission shall only issue five integrated facility licenses and 12 cultivator licenses. Cultivators and integrated facilities may not sell and transfer medical marijuana to persons or entities other than cannabis business licensees of the AMCC.
The AMCC requires cultivators to grow marijuana in an enclosed structure, thus prohibiting cannabis cultivation outdoors. Each cannabis plant must be cultivated in individual receptacles containing or growing media to foster portability, limit cross-contamination, and facilitate proper monitoring of each plant.
The growers must include a security plan in their operations plan to ensure medical cannabis remains secure. Cultivation facilities shall be fully surrounded by perimeter barriers deterring unauthorized access and limiting visibility. The facility must be monitored by 24-hour video surveillance that shows the identity and activity of persons at all entry and exit points and in all growing areas.
Yes. A cannabis processor license issued to a cannabis business entity authorizes one to purchase or transfer cannabis from a cultivator, process cannabis into medical cannabis, package and label medical cannabis products, and sell or transfer medical cannabis to a dispensary. The AMCC shall issue no more than four processor licenses.
Processors are required to use a scientific approach and consider factors such as risk assessment, life cycle, and patient protection in all facets of the manufacturing process pursuant to the application of quality control and quality assurance practices in processing medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis products must meet intended purity levels, be free from toxins and contaminants, and contain no additives aside from pharmaceutical-grade excipients. The products' form, packaging, and label must not attract or target children. The AMCC established that all gelatinous cube, cuboid, and lozenge medical cannabis products must conform to the universal flavor, peach.
A sufficient barrier or fence must surround the manufacturing facility’s perimeter and any outdoor premises to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. Their exterior doors must be reinforced or designed to withstand unlawful forcible entry.
Yes. A retailer must obtain a cannabis dispensary license from the AMCC to legally dispense and sell medical marijuana to a registered qualified patient or registered caregiver. The AMCC issues up to four dispensary licenses; each licensee may operate up to three dispensing sites, provided that each dispensing site shall be located in a separate county from other dispensing sites operated by the same dispensary licensee.
Patients who are 19 years of age or older with a qualifying condition can purchase medical marijuana. Minors can obtain medical marijuana through their registered caregivers.
Medical marijuana products that are allowed in the State of Alabama are:
Gels, creams, and oils for topical use
Non-sugar-coated cubes (gummies)
Oils or liquids used for inhalers
Conversely, these medical marijuana forms are not allowed:
Raw marijuana or plant material
Products that could be vaped or smoked
Marijuana that is baked, mixed, or infused in food products like cookies or candies
Licensees are refrained from dispensing cannabis products to non-residents of Alabama, including patients or caregivers eligible to receive medical marijuana under the laws of other jurisdictions and to recreational users. They shall sell only tested medical cannabis that is properly packaged and labeled and bears the universal state symbol to a registered patient or caregiver.
No. As of March 2023, dispensaries are not permitted to deliver medical cannabis to anyone, including patients and caregivers holding medical marijuana cards, as per the AMCC. Medical cannabis can only be bought inside the dispensary premises.
As of March 2023, the medical cannabis program in Alabama is in progress and is not accepting patient and caregiver applications. The AMCC requests applicants to check their website often for program updates.
A medical marijuana card lets patients and caregivers buy medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries. To receive one, the patient must first obtain a physician’s certification authorizing that the patient is qualified to receive medical cannabis. The patient must be a resident of Alabama, 19 years old or older, and with a qualifying condition.
Patients who are minors must have a caregiver who is a parent or guardian. As for caregivers, they must be Alabama residents, registered with the AMCC, and at least 21 years old (unless they are parents or guardians of a patient).
The qualifying medical conditions are:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, chronic pain
Epilepsy or a condition causing seizures
HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis or spinal cord injury
Sickle Cell Anemia
A terminal illness
A condition causing chronic or intractable pain
Thereafter, the Patient Registry System tracks patient registrations, physician certifications, medical cannabis cards, the daily dosage and type of medical cannabis recommended to qualified patients, and the dates of sale, types, and amounts of medical marijuana purchased by the patient or caregiver at the dispensaries.
Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
P. O. Box 309585
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Section 20-2A-10 of the Medical Cannabis Act provides for the creation of the Medical Cannabis Commission Fund, which includes the tax proceeds, license fees, civil penalties, and other fees or charges collected by the commission. Starting January 1, 2022, in addition to all other taxes imposed by law, a rate of 9% tax is imposed on the gross proceeds of the sale of medical cannabis in the state. The excise tax on every purchase of medical marijuana is also 9%.
According to a financial article, if Alabama lawmakers allow recreational marijuana in the state, the potential excise tax revenue in three years is more than $92 million. The estimation was based on the average excise tax figures and the number of residents using marijuana in each state.
On May 7, 2021, the governor of Alabama signed into law Alabama Act 2021-450, which legalized the use and possession of medical marijuana for qualified patients. The law being fairly new as of March 2023, the sale of medical marijuana has not yet started. It is premature to determine how medical cannabis legalization has affected crime rates in Shelby County.
Nevertheless, the FBI Crime Data Explorer recorded that in 2019, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office made 78 driving under the influence arrests. There is a lack of data on the number of DUI arrests in 2020. In 2021, there was no recorded arrest for DUI.
In 2019, the police made 12 apprehensions for the illegal possession of marijuana, while no arrest was made for the illegal sale/manufacturing of marijuana in Shelby County. Similarly, no data was presented for 2020. Finally, authorities made no arrests for unlawful possession and illicit sale/manufacturing of marijuana in 2021.