Alabama companies have until Friday to file for a license with the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission if they wish to be one of the few companies chosen to participate in the state’s emerging medical marijuana supply chain.
As of Monday, Alabama Medical Marijuana Commission Director John McMillan said it had received fewer than 10 applications. In October, the commission had received more than 600 requests for applications, but McMillan said he expected the required $2,500 application fee this month to shrink that pool significantly. Businesses will pay license fees ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
Since medical cannabis has yet to be legalized on a federal level, companies in the industry across the country face many challenges when it comes to financing. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Act, also known as the SAFE Banking Act, recently failed to pass the Senate for the third time according to Forbes. The SAFE Banking Act was designed to protect financial institutions who assist medical marijuana companies from prosecution for money laundering and other crimes or fines they are currently subject to.
McMillan said the failure of the SAFE Banking Act was probably not a big factor in the lack of applicants the state commission received. He said most companies that applied for licenses are already conducting business in other states, so they’re used to having to work around the banking issue.
“We think people know how to deal with that,” McMillan said. “They don’t like it, and they have security concerns, not about the money but about the personal safety of the staff and so forth.”
The commission will start evaluating applications around April, according to McMillan, and they hope to award the licenses in June 2023.
While McMillan said the commission does have certain changes they’d like to see made to the law in the future, they are not looking for any of those changes to be made in the 2023 session.
Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, who sponsored the medical marijuana bill in 2021, said he has not heard of any efforts to revise or change the legislation in the 2023 session. Melson told Alabama Daily News he will be meeting with McMillan in January to discuss the issue.
“The commission thinks that we need to have an opportunity to get the program up and running, and when that happens, that will probably identify other areas that need to be looked at,” McMillan said.
The state law says the commission can award up to 12 cultivator licenses, four processor licenses, four dispensary licenses, five integrated facility licenses and an unspecified number of secure transport and state testing laboratory licenses.
The state law, approved by the Legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey, requires the commission to consider applicants’ solvency, stability, capability and experience.
The law says the commission can award up to 12 cultivator licenses, four processor licenses, four dispensary licenses, five integrated facility licenses and an unspecified number of secure transport and state testing laboratory licenses.
By late 2023, people with qualifying medical conditions can purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. Conditions include cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain. Allowable forms of marijuana include pills, skin patches and creams but not smoking, vaping or edible products.