Bradley: The “Fix” Is In: Alabama Legislature to Consider Controversial Proposal to Revamp Stalled Medical Cannabis Program

Well, it’s here. Late yesterday afternoon Sens. Tim Melson and David Sessions introduced the long-awaited “legislative fix” to help get Alabama’s long-stalled Alabama medical cannabis licensing program off the ground. The proposal has not been, to be charitable, met with unanimous approval.

Here are the key points of the proposal:

  • Expanded Licenses in Most Categories. You thought five integrated facility licenses were too restrictive? How does 15 strike your fancy? Dispensary licenses increased from four to seven, and processing licenses from four to six.
  • Licenses Issued to Prior Awardees. If you were awarded a license at any of the three votes in June, August or December of 2023, you are issued a license even if that award was rescinded by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission or a court.
  • Revised Administrative Appeal Process. There is a new administrative appeal process, which could be a good thing if it allowed an impartial decision-maker to confirm that all awardees actually met the qualifications for a license under the statute and applicable regulations. Unfortunately, this proposal eschews the proverbial “good thing” and instead simply puts into a place a system whereby additional integrated facility licenses will be awarded until all 15 are given out, even if the AMCC originally determines that 15 applicants would not make safe medication for Alabamians. Incredible.
  • Court of Civil Appeals to Hear Challenges. Lots of people have criticized the efforts to the Montgomery County Circuit Court to resolve the licensing dispute over the past year. Those people decided to eliminate that problem by simply vesting original jurisdiction in the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. I guess they simply fixed the glitch.

In a move typically reserved for the naming of city parks and honoring marching bands, a Senate committee will hold a public hearing on the proposal today – less than 24 hours after the proposal was introduced.

Put simply, I do not believe this legislation is good policy as written, and I don’t think it has anywhere near the support it will need to become law in its current form. Reasonable people can debate reasonable changes to the current law and how it was implemented by the AMCC and reviewed by the courts. This proposal, however, seems a transparent effort by certain special interests to overturn the results of a series of votes they just didn’t like.

We’ll report back after the hearing.

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