Group to begin work on Alabama’s new medical marijuana program

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The 14 people who will oversee Alabama’s new medical marijuana program will gather for the first time Thursday.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, created by legislation that passed in May, will meet at 1 p.m. at the State House in Montgomery.
 
The panel faces several deadlines to set up the rules to launch what will be a fully intrastate program.
 
The law directs the commission to set up rules to allow companies to apply for licenses to cultivate, produce, transport, and sell the products by Sept. 1, 2022. By that same date, commission must set up a registry of patients and caregivers who can buy
the products. Alabama became the 37th state to legalize cannabis products for medical purposes, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures.
 
Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed and others appointed the 14 members, who will lead a “seed to sale” regulatory system for medical cannabis.
 
The legislation allocated the slots to appointees with certain professional backgrounds, such as medicine, agriculture, and pharmacy.
 
  • Ivey appointed Dr. William Saliski Jr., a pulmonologist from Montgomery; Sam Blakemore, a pharmacist at Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham; and Dwight Gamble, a bank executive from Headland.

  • Ainsworth appointed Dr. Angela Martin, a pediatrician from Anniston; Dr. Eric Jensen, a biochemist from Brownsboro; and Loree Skelton, a healthcare lawyer from Birmingham.

  • McCutcheon appointed Rex Vaughn, a Madison County farmer and north region vice president for the Alabama Farmers Federation; and Charles Price, a retired circuit judge from Montgomery.

  • Reed appointed Dr. Steven Stokes, a radiation oncologist from Dothan; and Taylor Hatchett of Boozer Farms in Chilton County.

  • Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate appointed James Harwell, former executive director of the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and president of Green Thumb Nursery in Montgomery.

  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has appointed Dr. Jerzy P. Szaflarski, director of the UAB Epilepsy Center in the Department of Neurology and a lead investigator in the UAB study on the use of CBD oil to treat seizure disorders, a program authorized by the passing of Carly’s Law in 2014. legislation in 2019.

  • Attorney General Steve Marshall appointed Katherine Robertson, chief counsel for the AG’s office, as his appointee, for a non-voting, advisory position.

  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Taylor appointed Dion Robinson, an ALEA special agent senior, as a non-voting, advisory member.

  • The first meeting is for organizational purposes. The law directs the commission to elect a chair and vice chair.

     
    Commission members cannot have financial interest in companies that are part of the medical marijuana industry. Public officials, candidates for public office, public employees, and lobbyists were not be eligible to be on the commission.
     
    The panel will oversee the licensing of the processors, testing labs, secure transporters, and dispensaries.
     
    The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will license and regulate cultivators.
     
    The legislation lists a wide range of conditions and symptoms that would make patients eligible: autism; cancer-related weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s; depression; epilepsy or condition causing seizures; HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s; persistent nausea not related to pregnancy; PTSD; sickle cell; spasticity associated with diseases including ALS and multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries; terminal illnesses; Tourette’s; chronic pain for which conventional therapies and opiates should not be used or are ineffective

The products can be in the form of tablets, capsules, tinctures, or gel cubes for oral use. They could be gels, oils or creams for topical use. They could be suppositories, transdermal patches, nebulizers, or liquids or oils for use in an inhaler.

Raw plant material, products that could be smoked or vaped, or food products such as cookies or candies would not be allowed.
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