State commission says medical cannabis dispensaries could operate similar to pharmacies

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Medical marijuana – approved by the state Legislature – still requires several steps before it’s available for use in Alabama. The newly formed Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which is tasked with implementing a process to grow, test and distribute medical marijuana, meets again next week.

With the use of his background in pharmacy, Dr. Sam Blakemore is in charge of the medical cannabis subcommittee on dispensaries. For someone to own a dispensary, they must become certified dispensers.

“The dispensaries are not pharmacies. But they should, in my opinion, have characteristics that resemble a pharmacy,” Blakemore said.

Some CBD shop owners say they are concerned about certified dispensaries not being a profitable business and that people could sell or prescribe cannabis illegally. This is called diversion and Blakemore said there will be a system in place to help prevent that.

“We’re going to have to be able to train certified dispensers to be able to pull the correct medicinal cannabis products that have been recommended by a physician. Fill that order correctly, make sure it’s verified appropriately against the patient registry, and then ensure that the physicians have been checked out,” Blakemore said.

Blakemore recommends those interested in becoming a certified dispenser should not do it for the money.

“This isn’t something to get into too just blindly make money. You’re going to have to have a passion for helping people,” Blakemore said.

Each certified dispenser can have three dispensing sites, but Blakemore said if the demand is there more could possibly open. Applications to become a certified dispenser are not yet available.

The commission will hold another public hearing on Sept. 9 at 12 p.m. in room 807 of the Statehouse. They are expected to vote on a new executive director.

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