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This story was first published by Alabama Reflector.

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

“We have an artificial injunction against the democratic process working and that ought to infuriate every voter in Alabama.”

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector

Medical cannabis supporters advocated for making medical cannabis, which is stalled due to litigation, available in Alabama.

The Patients Coalition for Medical Cannabis, a new organization advocating for possible patients, hosted speakers Wednesday in Montgomery to discuss potential benefits for patients, setbacks in Alabama and other states that have active medical cannabis programs.

“Let me ask you this question: Who are these lawsuits serving? They’re not serving the patients. I’ve been suffering for three years,” said Amanda Taylor, an advocate for medical cannabis and a former medical cannabis patient in Arizona. She said she has seven conditions, including multiple sclerosis, that could be treated with medical cannabis.

Alabama Legislature approved the medical marijuana program in 2021, but litigation over licenses has ground the process to a halt.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) began accepting applications in late 2022. The AMCC initially issued licenses in June but voided them due to scoring inconsistencies, later rescinding awards again in August amid a lawsuit over Open Meetings Act violations. The AMCC issued new licensing rules in October. The commission issued licenses a third time in December, but litigation halted the licensing process again in January for dispensaries and integrated facilities.

Integrated facilities—multimillion-dollar operations that can grow, process and sell medical cannabis—have been at the center of the ongoing litigation regarding licenses.

Dr. Marshall Walker, a pain management physician in Mobile, said that he has several treatments for pain, but he needs medical cannabis to fill the gaps in pain treatment.

He said that in his own pain practice, he’s seen patients who know that certain treatments could cause harm, but they have no other option unless the lawsuits end.

“All this requires is for our law to actually work for us, and we’ve already used the democratic process. We have an artificial injunction against the democratic process working and that ought to infuriate every voter in Alabama,” Walker said.

When the product is available, certified patients can use medical cannabis for 15 conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s disease. Patients must apply for a card to obtain it from licensed dispensers.

The law bans smoking or consuming cannabis in food. It will be available in tablets, capsules, gummies, oils, gels, creams, suppositories, transdermal patches, and inhalable forms. Only peach-flavored gummies are allowed.

Will Somerville, an attorney representing Alabama Always, one of the firms that sued AMCC, said that they only asked the commission to follow the law, alleging the commission did not properly follow licensing procedure.

“Why the commission has chosen to do things the way they have—with total disregard for the statute—is beyond me. We should do this the right way—how the Legislature intended it to be done. We look forward to the courts compelling the AMCC to do the right thing, the right way,” Somerville said in a statement.

Dr. Corey Hebert, a professor of pediatrics at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center, and Dr. Kirk Kinard, a pain management doctor in the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure, also advocated to make medical cannabis available in Alabama at the press conference, sharing their experience in treating patients.

Hebert said he treated a baby with infantile spasm, a type of seizure, whose condition only improved after being treated with medical cannabis.

“It’s inappropriate when your state is only holding this back because of the people that want to be involved in it. But it has nothing to do with the science. It has nothing to do with the law. It has nothing to do with that,” Hebert said.

Kinard said after the event that Alabama has had more than 30 states to learn from, and that “Alabama is not really stepping out on the edge of the cliff with this.”

“I’ve got thousands of patients reporting to me positives, very few negatives. I haven’t gotten, in 20,000 patient certifications—I’ve gotten zero calls from an emergency physician reporting that I have one of your certified patients in the ER,” Kinard said.

Taylor said after the event that with pharmaceuticals, there are often side effects that she doesn’t get from medical cannabis. She said that “while they’re helping one thing, they’re pulling something else.”

“There’s nobody in the hospital because of an overdose on cannabis, none of those things. I can use cannabis without side effects. I can function, and I can actually be more productive in life,” Taylor said.


Marijuana Moment via (https://www.marijuanamoment.net/alabama-patients-and-advocates-urge-state-to-resolve-medical-marijuana-licensing-dispute/)

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