Alabama medical cannabis licensing process on pause for second time

The process to bring medical cannabis to Alabamians is paused again.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The process to bring medical cannabis to Alabamians is paused again.

The first pause happened after an error in grading business applications. Thursday, a judge granted a temporary restraining order pausing the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission’s process to issue a business license. The order will stop the commission from issuing business licenses to companies who were awarded one.

This time, the company Alabama Always and others who weren’t awarded a medical cannabis license, claimed the commission violated the open meetings act.

“For as far along as we are, it’s a complete victory so far. We have a lot more to do,” said Will Somerville, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

During the latest meeting, the commission did meet behind closed doors for four hours during an executive session where each member nominated their preferred companies. The state’s lawyer told the judge it would’ve been impractical to do otherwise.

“We had a number of pass, fail issues, background checks, and issues that were all part of this decision, to begin with. And those are the kinds of things you know, you, you hate to just lay it out there. But they keep insisting so they may get their wish,” said John McMillan executive director of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

The companies claim there would be a better chance to earn a license if the selection process were public.

“We’re not guaranteed one. But we think in a fair process, we’ve got a really good shot. That’s all we want,” said Somerville.

All parties are concerned about the impact that this process will have on potential patients.

“We hate any delays because there are patients suffering every day that need these products,” said McMillan.

“The delay has been caused by their refusal to follow the law at every turn. They keep on doing things they shouldn’t do. And they keep on being stopped from it,” said Somerville.

McMillan adds that he can no longer say when medical marijuana will be available, he’s just hopeful that it will be eventually.

There will be another hearing on Aug. 28.

The commission has another meeting scheduled for Aug. 31.

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