Gadsden joins Glencoe in passing ordinance opening door for medical cannabis industry

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The State of Alabama gave its OK to medical cannabis more than two years ago, and the process of making that a reality — from growing it to getting it to patients in need — will begin in coming months as the application process for the limited number of business licenses begins.

For cites and counties to have a shot at landing one of those businesses, their governing bodies must approve an ordinance saying they are open to cannabis-related industries.

The Gadsden City Council approved that ordinance last week, seeking to be added the state's list of approving cities or counties by Oct. 17 — the deadline set by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission for requests for licenses for businesses related to medical cannabis.

Gadsden joins Glencoe — the only other Etowah County site listed — Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and 15 other municipalities or counties.

There are a limited number of licenses to be granted, City Attorney Lee Roberts told Gadsden council members. "It's going to be very competitive," he said, when it comes to landing these industries.

Council member Jason Wilson said it's estimated that one of these licensed dispensaries could generate $20 million in sales, which would be subject to sales tax.

Roberts said the businesses will be highly regulated, with background checks on license applicants. Council member Deverick Williams said the state commission will determine who receives licenses.

Roberts said there is a $2,500 non-refundable application fee, and noted that the ordinance just gets Gadsden on the list of potential locations for such businesses.

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Glencoe Mayor Pro Tem Danny Wagnon said Glencoe passed its ordinance in August. "The ordinance authorizes the location and operation of a medical cannabis dispensary within the corporate limits of Glencoe," he explained. "A dispensary must be approved by the state Medical Cannabis Commission before the City Council could authorize a license to do business within the city."

Those who obtain applications will have a Dec. 30, 2022, deadline to submit those applications for one of the following types of business licenses:

  • Integrated facility license: No more than five licenses for integrated facilities will be awarded. Each licensee may operate up to five dispensing sites. Integrated facilities will be authorized to cultivate cannabis and process it into medical cannabis, including proper packaging and labeling of products; dispense and sell medical cannabis only to a registered qualified patient or registered caregiver; transport cannabis or medical cannabis between its facilities; and to sell or transfer medical cannabis to a dispensary. The annual license fee is $50,000.
  • Cultivator license: No more than 12 licenses will be awarded, to allow cultivation of cannabis; sale or transfer of cannabis to a processor; and the sale or transfer of its medical cannabis to a dispensary if it contracts processing of its cannabis to medical cannabis. The annual license fee is $40,000.
  • Processor license: No more than four licenses will be awarded. Licenses will allow the purchase or transfer of cannabis from a cultivator; the processing of cannabis into medical cannabis, including properly packaging and labeling in accordance with the law; and the sale and transfer of medical cannabis to a dispensary. The annual license fee is $40,000.
  • Dispensary license: No more than four licenses will be awarded, and each licensee may operate up to three dispensing sites. A dispensary license authorizes the purchase or transfer of medical cannabis from a processor; the purchase or transfer of medical cannabis from the cultivator if a cultivator has contracted with a processor; the purchase or transfer of medical cannabis from an integrated facility; and the dispensing and sale of medical cannabis only to a registered qualified patient or registered caregiver. The annual license fee is $40,000.
  • Secure Transporter license: There is no limit on licenses, which authorize the licensee to store and transport cannabis and medical cannabis for a fee upon request of a licensee. A license does not authorize transport to a registered qualified patient or registered caregiver. The annual license fee is $30,000.
  • State Testing Laboratory license: There is no limit on licenses for laboratories authorized to possess and test cannabis and medical cannabis products cultivated or processed at licensed facilities. The annual fee is $30,000.
Region: Alabama