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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs bill into law legalizing medical marijuana

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday officially signed into law SB 46, which legalizes the permitted medicinal use of cannabis in the state of Alabama.

The bill establishes the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee and manage a comprehensive regulatory system related to medical marijuana in the Yellowhammer State; the cultivation, processing, transporting, testing and dispensing of medical cannabis would be licensed and regulated. Patients with a listed qualifying medical condition could be granted a valid medical cannabis card for the medical use of marijuana.

The regulatory system created by the legislation will not be fully set up until late 2022, so medical marijuana will not practically be legal in Alabama until that time.

SB 46 was sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) and carried in the House by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison). The bill is entitled the “Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act,” named after Rep. Laura Hall’s (D-Huntsville) late son.

Ivey met with Melson on Monday morning, when she affixed her signature to paper.

“Signing SB 46 is an important first step,” said Ivey. “I would like to again thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their willingness to address the legitimate concerns.”

“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied,” the governor continued. “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.”

“As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama,” Ivey concluded.

Under SB 46, medical marijuana cannot legally be “administered by smoking, combustion, or vaping.”

Also specifically outlawed is any “food product that has medical cannabis baked, mixed, or otherwise infused into the product, such as cookies or candies.”

“It is not the intent of this chapter to provide for or enable recreational use of marijuana in the State of Alabama,” the act stresses, adding that “the recreational use of marijuana remains a significant threat to public health and safety.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn