Regulators in Alabama will take a big step this week toward the launch of the state’s new medical cannabis industry, with plans to begin issuing licenses for businesses on Monday.
Local news station WIAT reported that the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will start the process of awarding licenses from the pool of 90 applications it says it has received.
“Earlier this year, the group began reviewing the applications for cultivators, processors and dispensaries, along with other areas of the industry. The University of South Alabama collaborated with the commission to evaluate the applications,” the station reported.
The Medical Cannabis Commission said in April that it had “voted to formally deem 90 applications submitted.” After deeming those applications “properly filed, amended, and corrected,” the commission said that they would “proceed to the review, evaluation and scoring process.”
“The application for medical cannabis business licenses closed on December 30, 2022. Timely filed applications were reviewed by [Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission] for deficiencies, and applicants were given notice of any deficient items in their application. Applicants were required to file a proposed corrected application, or request more time for filing such application, by March 3, 2023,” the commission said in April. “Additionally, applicants could file a petition to amend items in their application. Applicants who were granted an extension of time to propose deficiency corrections and those filing a proposed amended application were required to file their corrected and/or amended applications by March 24, 2023.”
Commission director John McMillan said at the time that the panel was “excited to be one step closer to program implementation.”
“Now that we have our official slate of applicants, the sixty-day window to review applications has started,” said McMillan.
The commission said then that it was scheduled “to award licenses in each license category” at its meeting scheduled for Monday this week.
“Once the business licenses have been issued, physicians may begin the certification process to recommend medical cannabis to qualified patients,” the commission said at the time.
The 90 applications that were officially submitted included 12 cultivator applications, 11 processor applications, 18 dispensary applications, nine secure transporter applications, two state testing laboratory applications and 38 integrated facility applications.
The commission explained how the evaluation and allocation of the licenses would unfold.
“The review, evaluation and scoring of applications will inform the Commission’s decisions regarding award of licenses. This information will be based on the merits of each application as expressed by ranked score. The Commission has engaged the University of South Alabama to establish teams of academic evaluators and other qualified individuals to review, evaluate and score business license applications. The Commission has complete discretion as to the number of licenses awarded (not to exceed the limits provided by the Act) and the applicants to whom licenses are awarded,” the announcement in April said. “Following the evaluation of applications, the Commission, per the statute, may award up to twelve (12) cultivator licenses, four (4) processor licenses, four (4) dispensary licenses, five (5) integrated facility licenses and an unspecified number of secure transport and state testing laboratory licenses.”
Alabama legalized medical cannabis for individuals with qualifying conditions in 2021, when Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law.
“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” Ivey said in a statement after signing the legislation. “On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”
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