Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Dilemma SB276’s Critics Warn of ‘Wild West’ Market

Alabama’s Medical Cannabis Dilemma: SB276’s Critics Warn of ‘Wild West’ Market

A medicinal cannabis reform measure proposed yesterday by two State Senators was received with criticism and dissatisfaction during a Senate Agriculture Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The committee had a public hearing and adjourned without voting on the bill. The meeting gathered enough attention to fill the committee room and an overflow room, but it was not broadcast on the Alabama Legislature’s website for reasons that are still unknown.

SB276, introduced by State Sens. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) and Tim Melson (R-Florence), would restructure Alabama’s medical cannabis market, which has yet to take off owing to a Montgomery Circuit Court injunction. The bill’s proponents and supporters hope it will break the lawsuit logjam, but detractors at the committee meeting said that the proposed remedy is worse than the problem due to the huge rise in the number of eligible business licenses.

The plan would quadruple the amount of Integrated Facility licenses available under state law, from five to fifteen.

Speakers cautioned that the projected expansion of an intrastate market will turn into the “wild west” and place Alabama in the same category as states with failed markets.

The lone proponent of the notion during the meeting was Southeast Cannabis Company, a failed applicant. According to Patrick Dungan, a lawyer for the corporation, “Absent a legislative solution like [SB276], it could take years to unravel these problems.”

The Medical Cannabis Commission has been embroiled in lawsuits filed by rejected license applicants since June 2023, when the Commission first sought to award licenses in all categories. Except for Tennessee, all of Alabama’s surrounding states have active medicinal cannabis programs.

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