Medical cannabis will soon be cultivated, treated, and sold in Alabama

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Governor Ivey signed bill SB 46 into law Monday afternoon, more than a week after it passed.

The bill legalizes the use of cannabis to treat specific chronic illnesses including cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chronic pain.

You won’t be allowed to smoke it or eat it in sweet treats. UAB Director of epilepsy, Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski, said the treatment is only approved in certain forms.

“Oils and inhalers,” said Dr. Szaflarski.

Medical cannabis may also come in tablets or topical cream. It will have a limit of one milligram of THC, the euphoria-producing chemical found in cannabis.

Dr. Szaflarski said approved patients will be given a card that’ll be used to get the drug from a dispensary. He also said the medical condition must be verified and tracked, one of the measures to prevent abuse of the system.

“It will not be by the history from the patient only but also by the history of the treating physician,” Szaflarski explained.

Dr. Szaflarski said medical cannabis will also be treated as the last resort after other treatments have been tried first.

“Certainly I believe many patients will benefit. There are products, cannabis products available on markets outside of the U.S. that have been clearly shown to benefit patients with various medical conditions,” said Szaflarski.

Officials tell WBRC it will be several months to a year before the first medical cannabis prescription is filled in the state and doctors will get to decide to opt-in or out of prescribing it.

“The other physicians will need it to be approved to do that. They will need to take specific CME credits. And they’ll need to be approved by a body that will govern this. I believe this will be most likely run by the Medical Association of the state of Alabama,” he said.

Patients will not be able to get a medical cannabis card through telemedicine in Alabama, as all appointments must be in person, in the state, including follow-ups.

The law also specifically states that it will implement provisions to prevent a progression to legal recreational use.

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