A 2021 law legalizing medical cannabis in Alabama is difficult to implement due to a state-mandated cap on some business license categories, according to Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) is currently being sued by companies that have never received a license in the multiple rounds of license awards and companies that received licenses in previous rounds but didn’t in the latest round in December.

Anderson still has AMCC staff and commissioners under a temporary restraining order until the litigation is resolved. AMCC and companies awarded licenses in December want the TRO lifted so they can begin implementing the program and growing and selling medical cannabis.

Most of the debate revolves around the highly sought-after integrated facility license category, which is capped at five recipients. The license allows a business to sell, cultivate, dispense, and transport medical cannabis in Alabama.

Just an observation where I’m coming from. The thing that makes this difficult for everybody and the commission is the Legislature’s desire to limit the number of licenses,” Anderson said in court on Tuesday. “You think, we’ve got these rules, and if you get denied a license, you’ve got a process that they’re beginning to have if they can have an investigation on, but it makes it unique. I’ve talked about the C.O.N. We may have a State Health Plan, but there’s not a limit. That plan is flexible. I think about the ABC Board and liquor licenses. We don’t say we can only have five liquor stores. There’s restrictions about how you can get them. We’ve come about this because of the limitation of the number of licenses that the commission has been charged with and it’s made it a difficult thing to look at.”

AMMC’s next meeting is scheduled for July 11, but they won’t be able to do anything substantive until the TRO is lifted. 

“There may be something that the commission can do on their own that can provide a remedy,” Anderson said.

Multiple legislators have told 1819 News the medical cannabis law wouldn’t have originally passed in 2021 without the license cap.

Multiple bills seeking to raise the cap on cannabis business licenses didn’t receive enough support to pass in the previous legislative session.

To connect with the story's author or comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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