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AL Medical Marijuana Commission Holding First Meeting

The 14 people on the commission who will run Alabama’s new medical marijuana program meet for the first time this week


The 14 people on the commission in charge of Alabama’s new medical marijuana program will gather for the first time Thursday, August 12.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, created by legislation that passed in May, will meet at 1 p.m. at the State House in Montgomery.

And they’ll need to hit the round running, as there’s plenty of work to do. The commission is staring down several deadlines to set up the rules to launch what will be a statewide program, reports al.com.

Among the biggest tasks will be regulating the new industry, and by necessity keeping it intrastate, that is, contained with Alabama. The law directs the commission to set up rules to allow companies to apply for licenses to cultivate, produce, transport, and sell Cannabis products by Sept. 1, 2022. By that same date, commission members are required set up a registry of patients and caregivers who are allowed to buy the products.

Alabama Is 37th Medical Marijuana State

With the law, Alabama became the 37th state to legalize medicinal cannabis products, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures.

Doctors will be able to recommend medical cannabis products for:

Autism; cancer-related weight loss, or chronic pain; Crohn’s; depression; epilepsy or condition causing seizures; HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder; Parkinson’s; persistent nausea not related to pregnancy; PTSD; sickle cell; spasticity associated with diseases including ALS and multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries; terminal illnesses; Tourette’s; and chronic pain for which conventional therapies and opiates should not be used or are ineffective.

Here Are The 14 Commission Members

Gov. Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed and others appointed the 14 members. They will lead a “seed to sale” regulatory system for medical cannabis.

The legislation allocated the slots to appointees with certain professional backgrounds, such as medicine, agriculture, and pharmacy.

  • Ivey appointed Dr. William Saliski Jr., a pulmonologist from Montgomery; Sam Blakemore, a pharmacist at Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham; and Dwight Gamble, a bank executive from Headland.
  • Ainsworth appointed Dr. Angela Martin, a pediatrician from Anniston; Dr. Eric Jensen, a biochemist from Brownsboro; and Loree Skelton, a healthcare lawyer from Birmingham.
  • McCutcheon appointed Rex Vaughn, a Madison County farmer and north region vice president for the Alabama Farmers Federation; and Charles Price, a retired circuit judge from Montgomery.
  • Reed appointed Dr. Steven Stokes, a radiation oncologist from Dothan; and Taylor Hatchett of Boozer Farms in Chilton County.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Rick Pate appointed James Harwell, former executive director of the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and president of Green Thumb Nursery in Montgomery.
  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris has appointed Dr. Jerzy P. Szaflarski, director of the UAB Epilepsy Center in the Department of Neurology and a lead investigator in the UAB study on the use of CBD oil to treat seizure disorders, a program authorized by the passing of Carly’s Law in 2014. legislation in 2019.
  • Attorney General Steve Marshall appointed Katherine Robertson, chief counsel for the AG’s office, as his appointee, for a non-voting, advisory position.
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Taylor appointed Dion Robinson, an ALEA special agent senior, as a non-voting, advisory member.

Blakemore Taking Duties Seriously

Sam Blakemore (Credit: ABC 33/40 News)

Sam Blakemore, the pharmacist appointed to the commission by Gov. Ivey, told ABC 33/40 News he takes the position seriously.

“Any book I can get about medical cannabis I’ve bought,” Blakemore said.

“We’re really trying to regulate it in a manner where the people who need it have access to it, and the people who don’t need it, you don’t need it,” he said.

“There’s going to have to be some tough discussions,” Blakemore said. “Obviously, we’re going to be looking at the regulations that have been passed in other states.”

The pharmacist added he believes Cannabis has the power to change families’ lives.

“It’s to ensure we have compassion for families with a loved one with an illness that’s terrible and that they have access to medical cannabis in a manner that will allow them to not have to go here or go there or to the black market to get a product,” he said.

Members Can’t Have Financial Ties To Marijuana Industry

The first meeting is for organizational purposes. Among the first items on the agenda, the law directs the commission to elect a chair and vice chair.

Commission members cannot have financial interest in companies that are part of the medical marijuana industry. Public officials, candidates for public office, public employees, and lobbyists were not be eligible to be on the commission, reports al.com.

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