Is Medical-Only Weed Legal in Alabama?

August 21, 2021
Alabama Legality Weed
Alabama Legality Weed

Is Marijuana Legal in the State of Alabama?

Weed/Marijuana is legal in Alabama for medical use only.  Recreational cannabis still remains illegal throughout the Cotton State, with first-time possession without the intention to sell being classified as a misdemeanor.

 

History of Weed Laws

Before Alabama legalized medical marijuana, Governor Bentley signed Carly’s Law in 2014, which allowed the University of Alabama at Birmingham to legally administer non-intoxicating CBD oil to pediatric patients who suffered from seizures, to complete a clinical study.  Two years later, the law was amended to fully permit all residents to use CBD oil derived from hemp for medical purposes, under the guidance of a physician. 

 

Meanwhile, in 2015, Senator Singleton came up with the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act in an effort to legalize the state’s first medical marijuana program, but the act never made it to a vote by the Senate.  

 

In July 2019, Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB 225, thus making the law amended a third time to align with federal law pertaining to hemp as determined by the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized all hemp derivatives except for those containing more than 0.3% THC.

 

Now, in the beginning of 2020, lawmakers attempted again to legalize medical cannabis, but it wasn’t until 2021 that Governor Ivey finally signed the SB 46, The Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act into law.  This bill allowed the state to enact a medical marijuana program authorized to those with certain qualifying conditions, thus starting up a registry system so that medical patients could apply online through the state’s website.  Currently, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission oversees the entire program, while the state’s Department of Agriculture oversees the cultivation and lab-testing of cannabis.

 

Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Alabama?

Because medical marijuana only became legalized this year, there are not yet any licensed dispensaries in the state of Alabama.  The state is working hard to come up with laws and regulations that will allow these locations to operate in a way that’s safe and accessible.  Once dispensaries are up and running, patients and their caregivers will be allowed to purchase up to 60 days’ worth of cannabis at a time, with the physician of the patient deciding on what constitutes as a daily supply given the patient’s circumstances.  However, patients cannot consume more than 50mg per day.  CBD products are not regulated by the state and can be purchased in various locations throughout.

 

Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

Right now, Alabama is working out laws when it comes to consumption of medical cannabis.  As of now, it’s illegal to consume cannabis on school grounds of in prisons. And, for now, there is a strict law against consuming it in public. Although, that may be altered in the near future.  For the time-being, cannabis can only be consumed on private property, out of public view.

 

Possession Laws

Patients 19 years or older can possess up to 70 daily servings of cannabis, with the daily serving amount being determined by their physician, but not exceeding 75 milligrams.  Meanwhile, possession of cannabis by a non-medical patient authorized by the state, or an approved caregiver, can result in criminal charges.  The state has not decriminalized marijuana for adult use despite an attempt to do so in 2020.

Minors cannot consume a product that contains more than 3% THC.  Patients who have terminal illnesses may be able to get authorization for higher daily amounts of THC.

 

Can Residents Grow Their Own?

Alabama does not permit cultivation of cannabis, regardless of medical status.  Anyone caught growing cannabis at home will be charged with drug trafficking under state law, and this applies to recreational users, medical patients and their caregivers.  This may change in the future while the state continues to iron out its new medical legalization, although right now, no one is allowed to grow marijuana under any circumstances.

 

Medical Marijuana

As of now, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is in the process of setting up the state’s first medical marijuana program and registry process.  Therefore, patients will need to wait until it’s up and running to apply for medical marijuana.  The state will determine THC limits for various needs and may continue to clarify the list of qualifying conditions. 

 

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cancer- or HIV/AIDS-related cachexia (wasting), nausea, vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain
  • Chronic or intractable pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy or other seizure-related condition
  • Nausea not related to pregnancy or cannabis use
  • Panic disorder
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Spasticity associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or multiple sclerosis
  • Terminal disease
  • Tourette syndrome

 

Patient Qualifications:

The state has not yet come up with a clear list of patient qualifications that will allow a patient to be approved for medical marijuana.  However, the state will require that the patient is diagnosed with one of the above conditions and receives a certification from their physician.

 

How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Alabama

The registration process to gain access to the medical marijuana program is still being ironed out by the state, but patients in places such as Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, etc. will be able to submit an application form through the state’s website.

 

Qualifying as a Caregiver

To qualify as a caregiver in Alabama, you must be at least 21 years of age.  Note that the state can legally limit the number of caregivers per individual patient if they see a reason to.

 

Registering as a Caregiver

To register as a caregiver in Alabama, you must file an application through the state’s website and wait for a medical card to be issued to you before you can begin purchasing cannabis on your patient’s behalf.

 

Reciprocity Laws

AL does not have reciprocity laws.  This means that medical patients who are visiting from out of state cannot purchase cannabis from a dispensary, even if they have a medical card provided by their home state.

 

Lab-Testing

Any cannabis product sold in a dispensary to a medical patient is required to have undergone a testing process by a third-party laboratory that is approved by the state.  The testing process identifies the cannabinoid profile of the product while looking for contaminants, impurities, and other unwanted byproducts, to ensure safety to the consumer.