MONTGOMERY — Despite legal setbacks and rumors of an overhaul, major changes to Alabama’s medical cannabis licensing process likely won’t happen during the upcoming legislative session next February.
An article in POLITICO published Thursday about the lengthy implementation of the new medical marijuana industry in Alabama stated that “rumors are swirling” that the Legislature might “scrap the whole program or open up a licensing free-for-all.”
However, Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) Chairman Rex Vaughn said on Thursday he hadn’t heard of any significant changes to the law being considered by legislators.
“The Legislature, they studied this statute long and hard, and I think they’ve got the numbers in place that they think will accommodate the state of Alabama. Nobody knows what the supply and demand will dictate. Based on what we know now until we get the industry up and running, I don’t think anything will change with regard to that,” Vaughn said.
There are five different types of licenses offered by the commission. Integrated facility licenses are capped at five, cultivator licenses at twelve, processor licenses at four, and dispensary licenses at four. Secure transporter and state testing laboratory licenses are both uncapped.
The commission is currently being sued mainly by companies unsuccessful in previous license award rounds. The commission released a timeline on Thursday allowing for another round of license awards in December after the commission views voluntary public presentations from applicants in November and December.
State Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) told 1819 News he hadn’t heard about any discussions of major changes to the medical cannabis law.
“I think they’re on the right track of being cautious as they move forward so they’ll at least be able to do things within the framework of that act. I think they’re trying their best to do that. I just hope they’re able to get that done so they’re able to move forward with their work,” Smitherman said. “My thought is that if there are any tweaks and things they’ve got to get out… it’s easier to get out of a small number than it is a large number. Once you get it straight, you can crank it up to whatever the commission desires to do.”
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) said in an interview on Thursday, “Before the Legislature jumps back in and talks about doing anything, we just need to investigate what it is that has been going on to see what it is that needs to be fixed if something needs to be fixed.”
“I think that we just need to look at where we need to be, and if the commission comes back to us and says that there’s something that needs to be fixed, then I think we need to fix it,” he added. “This is a new industry in the state of Alabama. There’s a lot of potential for it. There’s a lot of people who are in need of this in terms of health and medical care. We just need to get it right. Whatever it takes to get it right.”
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