The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission held a listening session for stakeholders to present their comments on draft rules and regulations which will govern Alabama’s medical cannabis industry.

The commission vice chairman Rex Vaughn referenced the “extremely tight” timeline for comments, and Executive Director John McMillan explained that “the 35-day public comment period ends on Aug. 5. The responsibility of the commission is to adopt the rules as they are currently written or the changes that we are going to make.”

The Commission will vote to adopt the rules as drafted at their Aug. 11 meeting and will begin accepting applications for cannabis licenses on Sept. 1.

Opening the listening session, McMillan said that the comments should be “solely focused on the rules and regulations we have before us. We will be accepting comments online as well as responding to questions online.”

Some concerns arose outside the scope of the rules, but McMillan was quick to emphasize the purpose of the listening session.

“The legislature has already had its say,” said Will Webster, who authored the rules. “The members of this commission have been working on these rules and have had their input. Today is your day to make comments. … As much as everybody told us how great these rules are, they could be better.

“Today we, the AMCC commission and staff, are here to listen. We can’t change the act. Only the legislature can make changes to the original legislation. You may have a good point, but that is not something that we can change. We can’t do a legal opinion for you. That is for you to go out and find private counsel.”

Frederick Spight is the new policy director at Alabama Appleseed and a practicing attorney in Montgomery. He asked that the rule preventing people with a drug conviction in the last 10 years from being employed in the industry be reduced to three years “to give those opportunities to those people.”

Other concerns related to building requirements for marijuana facilities, a potential need for additional language facilitating research and development, marijuana testing requirements, facility security and a focus on serving minorities and underserved communities across the state.

Attorney Tom Kelly from Barbour County stated that he represents Alabama Always, owned by Alabama band member Teddy Gentry, and that the company would be “ready to grow on day one.”

“We are seeing patients who could be well served by medical marijuana that are self-diagnosing with alcohol and vicious drugs,” McMillan said. “We have an opportunity to improve those people’s lives.”

Comments will be considered and any changes incorporated into the final draft of the rules by the August 11 meeting of the Commission.

Industry advocates hope that Alabamians with a demonstrable medical need can be issued Alabama medical cannabis cards as soon as this fall.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email [email protected].

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.