Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission faces timeline setbacks

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It was a full house for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission during it’s second meeting to discuss the actual framework so patients and doctors can start working with the drug.

“It’s not every day that we get to start a new state agency that’s going to help a lot of people in the state,” a representative from the Alabama Department of Agriculture said.

The commission discovered an early challenge to their original plan. Medical cannabis growing license’s won’t be made available for growers to apply for until Sept. 2022. Which is when the product was expected to be ready for use.

Dr. Steven Stokes, chair of the commission, said he hopes the timeline is able to change.

“The legislation was initially [supposed] to start in September of 2021 and [it was] pushed it back a year not thinking that we could get organized and going this fast,” said Stokes. “Senator Melson was here; he said he would assist us in enabling legislation in the first session so maybe we can move it up.”

The state must plant, grow and process cannabis into legal products before distributing it to patients, and this setback could mean products won’t be available until 2023.

“All that has to go in sequential fashion and we have a lot to do and we have to get organized. I think we’re moving faster than anybody thought we could,” Stokes said.

Another issue the commission is facing is educating doctors on medical cannabis too quickly. It could happen more than a year before a seed is even in the ground which leaves too much time between educating doctors and prescribing cannabis.

Applications for the position of director for the commission close August 30th and the commission plans to announce who they’ve chosen for that position at their next meeting on Sept. 9 at 1p.m.

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