On Wednesday, Marijuana Moment reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee of Alabama cleared the bill that legalizes medical marijuana in the state. The article stated that the committee voted 8-1 in favor of the proposed legislation, while one member was absent. Next, the Senate will discuss and vote on the bill. If legalized, patients with qualifying medical conditions could purchase marijuana products from licensed dispensaries. However, the proposed legislation prohibits patients from smoking or vaping marijuana.
Senator Tim Melson has sponsored the bill. He sponsored a similar bill last year, which cleared the Senate but failed in the House of Representatives. However, the bill led to the creation of the Medical Cannabis Study Commission. Two months ago, the commission recommended that the state implement a medical marijuana program. Notably, the current bill is a modified version of the last year’s bill. The modifications include that the patient might not need to exhaust other traditional treatment before moving to medical marijuana. Also, physicians aren’t liable for recommending marijuana and employees aren’t eligible for compensation when accidents involve intoxication from medical cannabis.
Forming the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
As reported by Marijuana Moment, the bill proposes the establishment of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. The commission would be responsible for creating the patient registry database, issuing medical cannabis cards, and approving the licenses for dispensaries, cultivation, transportation, and testing facilities.
The bill includes 15 medical conditions, which allow patients to qualify for the cannabis program. Notably, the bill will allow patients to purchase cannabis supplies that are required for 70 days at a time. The bill proposes capping the number of dispensaries to 32.
The bill has put stringent restrictions on cannabis product advertising. Companies have seed-to-sale tracking of marijuana products. The bill sets specific packaging and labeling requirements. Meanwhile, the bill imposed compulsory criminal background checks for licensed facility employees.
Expectations from the House
With the House rejecting a similar bill last year, we’ll have to see what the House does if the bill moves to the chamber this year. Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon stated that he will wait and see. However, the state’s attorney general, Steve Marshall, sent a letter to representatives stating that he opposes the bill.
Cannabis sector’s performance
Currently, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 states have allowed cannabis for recreational purposes. Many states including Kentucky, Mississippi, Idaho, and Alabama are working to legalize medical marijuana. Cannabis sales can rise as more states legalize it, which drives the cannabis sector. Last year, the cannabis sector went through a tough period. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE:MJ) and the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (TSE:HMMJ) lost 31.4% and 39.0% of their stock values, respectively. This year, MJ and HMMJ are trading 3.4% and 0.8% lower as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) reported their earnings last week. Canopy Growth beat analysts’ expectations, while Aurora Cannabis fell short of analysts’ estimates. Canopy Growth has returned 5.4% YTD, while Aurora Cannabis is trading 19% lower.