Alabama Bill Would Add Medical Cannabis Licenses as Lawmaker Tries to Get ‘Commission Out of Court’

Alabama lawmakers could increase the number of medical cannabis licenses in the state under a new bill seeking to end the legal disputes that have plagued the licensing process since the first licenses were awarded last June.

Full story after the jump.

A bill filed Tuesday in Alabama seeks to increase the number of medical cannabis dispensary, processor, and integrated facility licenses as lawmakers push to end the legal dispute that has plagued the state’s program since the awarding of licenses was first announced last June, the Alabama Reflector reports. The measure would also require the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) to confirm any licenses granted by the commission from June to December of last year by June 15.

The bill would increase the number of dispensary licenses from four to seven, the number of processor licenses from four to six, and require the AMCC to issue 15 integrated facility licenses, which would allow businesses to cultivate, process, and distribute medical cannabis.  

State Sen. David Sessions (R), the bill sponsor, said the bill’s goal “is to try and get the commission out of court.”   

Alabama’s medical cannabis licensing process has been plagued by delays:

  • First, the licensing process was paused due to “potential inconsistencies in the tabulation of scoring data;
  • Then, a lawsuit claimed the AMCC violated the state’s open meetings law;
  • Another claimed the commission had no right to revoke and then re-award medical cannabis licenses that may have been affected by the data error;
  • Another lawsuit accused the AMCC of wrongfully implying one of the company’s owners or senior directors had a criminal record;
  • And another claimed regulators unfairly revoked a company’s original license by excluding it from the second licensing round.

In all, the AMCC has run three licensing rounds, but the agency remains in court over its process. Sessions said the bill would provide licenses to the four companies that were previously granted licenses but did not receive them in the most recent round.  

In a statement, Will Somerville, attorney for Alabama Always, which has brought several lawsuits against the AMCC, said the bill would not solve the problems and could actually make them worse. 

“This bill will not settle any of the ongoing controversy or litigation. Legislation should be developed that will fix the major flaws in the commission’s actions and allow legitimate companies that followed the law to begin to provide products to Alabamians who desperately need it. This bill does the opposite.” — Somerville, in a statement, via the Alabama Reflector 

Somerville pointed out that the bill would give licenses to companies wrongly awarded licenses in the first place and that seven of the nine companies do not meet the program’s original requirements.  

Lawmakers approved the original legislation in 2021. The bill to add new licenses is currently in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. 

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