The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will begin accepting applications from companies seeking a medical marijuana grower, processor, transporter or dispensary license on Thursday.

The commission, led by Director John McMillan, has been working for over a year on rules, regulations and processes.

The state will allow 12 cultivators, four processors, four dispensary licensees (that may operate in three locations each), and five integrated facility licenses (where businesses may grow, process, transport, and dispense medical cannabis). The application process consists of a "weeding out" process that includes a background check and analysis of financial ability, moral character and business background. The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission may choose who is eligible for a license based on their analysis of these and other factors.

The commission must first approve dispensaries before they can get a license through municipalities, so any municipality or county must pass their own ordinance to allow for dispensaries first. Counties and municipalities may also put their own regulations on those businesses. Some cities, including Tuscaloosa and Cullman, have already started the process of making their own regulations and application process.

The deadline for applications to be submitted is December 30. Licenses will be issued on July 10, 2023.

Conditions that may be treated with medical cannabis include autism, cancer, Crohn's disease, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and other chronic or terminal conditions.

The medication would be offered in pill form, patches, gels, oils and other means but would not be available in leafy form, edibles or smoked or vaped forms.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that medications derived from chemicals in the marijuana plant can be helpful for some conditions. However, it is unknown if there are long-term adverse effects.

The first medical marijuana sold in the state under the law will likely not be available to consumers until sometime in 2023. 

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