Alabama Gets Closer to Legalizing Medical Marijuana

On Thursday, WBRC reported that the Alabama Senate cleared Senate Bill 165. The bill will create the Compassion Act, which legalizes medical marijuana. The bill has listed several qualifying medical conditions and symptoms. Patients suffering from these medical conditions can access medical marijuana products after receiving approval from qualified doctors. A doctor can only prescribe marijuana products after all the other methods have been exhausted. The Senate passed the bill with 22 to 11 votes in favor of the bill. Now, the bill will move to the House. The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the bill last month.

Details of the Senate Bill 165

Senator Tim Melson, who worked more than a year to address a variety of issues from varying groups, sponsored the bill. Some amendments were made to the bill after the discussion in the Senate.

The Medical Cannabis Commission will develop marijuana regulations and licensing. Also, the commission will oversee the process of allotting licenses to cultivators, processors, and dispensaries. The bill also mandates the tracking system for cannabis products from seed-to-sale. Meanwhile, the commission will develop rules and standards for training dispensaries’ employees. The bill capped the prescription on the THC levels at 75 milligrams.

The bill prohibits smoking, vaping, or consuming marijuana in the edible form. However, patients can use pills, gels, oil or creams, transdermal patches, and nebulizers. Patients will have to receive a medical cannabis card from the state. Also, the state will create an electronic patient registry. The bill only allows 34 dispensaries in the state. Patients will be able to receive 70 dosages of marijuana products at a time.

The bill only allows Alabama farmers to grow the required marijuana. State businesses can process marijuana to develop medical products. Farmers with over 15 years of experience in farming will be allowed to grow the crop. Meanwhile, the bill mandates that minorities can own 25% of the dispensaries. The bill restricts the Medical Cannabis Commission from adding new qualifying medical conditions. Likewise, the legislature will only have the power to approve new medical conditions.

On clearing the bill, Tim Melson said, “This is going to be grown by the people of Alabama, dispensed by the people of Alabama and is for patients of Alabama. It’s not about getting high, it’s about getting well.”

Medical marijuana in the US

So far, 33 states in the US have legalized medical marijuana. Many other states including Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota might legalize marijuana for medical purposes. As reported by The National Law Review, the Kentucky legislation is working on House Bill 136, which legalizes medical marijuana in the state. Mississippi will vote on changing the law to allow marijuana for medical purposes.

Performance of the marijuana sector

Weakness in the broader equity markets due to the coronavirus outbreak and the slump in oil prices compounded the marijuana industry’s problems. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (NYSE:MJ) and the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF (TSE:HMMJ) have fallen by 42.1% and 41.1% YTD, respectively. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index has declined by 26.7% during the same period. Canopy Growth (TSE:WEED), Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), and Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) have fallen by 44.3%, 65.6%, and 37.7%, respectively. Despite the fall, I’m optimistic about Canopy Growth. Read Does Canopy Growth Look Attractive after Yesterday’s Fall? to learn more about the company’s growth prospects.