Alabama governor still reviewing medical marijuana bill

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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is still reviewing a medical marijuana bill that would allow registered patients with qualifying conditions to safely access and use medical cannabis. If Ivey signs the bill into law, Alabama would become the 37th state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana. Learn more in the video above.

The Alabama Legislature approved the bill last week.

Ivey on Thursday signed three bills into law, including legislation for wine delivery and permanent daylight saving time.

COMPASSION ACT SUMMARY

Qualifying for the Program

  • To legally use and access medical cannabis, patients must apply for and receive a medical cannabis card. To qualify, they must have a qualifying condition and a physician’s certification. A fee of up to $65 will apply.
  • The qualifying conditions are autism; cancer-related pain, nausea, or weight loss; Crohn’s; epilepsy; HIV/AIDS-related nausea; persistent nausea that has not significantly responded to other treatments, with exceptions; PTSD; sickle cell anemia; panic disorder; Tourette’s; Parkinson's disease; spasticity related to multiple sclerosis, a motor neuron disease, or spinal cord injury; terminal illness; or a condition causing intractable or chronic pain “in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or has proved ineffective.”
  • The Senate-passed version includes anxiety, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, and fibromyalgia. The House-passed version includes depression.
  • Patients under 19 would need a parent or guardian to pick up their cannabis.

Legal Protections

  • Qualifying patients, caregivers, and medical cannabis establishments and their staff are not subject to criminal or civil penalty for actions authorized by the bill.
  • Patients could possess up to 70 daily doses of cannabis.
  • Patients generally could not be denied organ transplants or other medical care on the basis of medical cannabis.

Physicians’ Role and Regulation

  • To certify patients, physicians must be authorized to do so by the State Board of Medical Examiners. They must meet qualifications the board establishes. The House version also requires physicians to pay a fee of up to $300 to certify patients.
  • Certifying physicians must complete a four-hour medical cannabis continuing medical education course and complete an exam. The courses can charge up to $500. A two-hour refresher is required every two years.
  • The board will develop rules for certifications including requirements for the patient-physician relationship, detailed requirements for informed consent, and how long a certification may be valid, which may not exceed one year.
  • Certifying physicians must specify daily dosage and type. This would likely require participating doctors to run afoul of federal law. If this is not revised, it would likely dramatically depress participation.

Click here to read the full breakdown of the bill.

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