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Alabama Regulators Award Medical Marijuana Business Licenses—For Third Time

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“The week we had had a good process—it’s worked well. The presenters brought things to the forefront that maybe we didn’t see otherwise, that you can’t really see in a paper application.”

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission Friday awarded 20 licenses for the production and distribution of medical cannabis in its third attempt to get the new industry started in the state.

The awards followed three days of presentations from applicants and months of litigation over the AMCC’s prior methods of evaluating applications.

“The week we had had a good process—it’s worked well,” said Rex Vaughn, the chair of the AMCC. “The presenters brought things to the forefront that maybe we didn’t see otherwise, that you can’t really see in a paper application.”

The commission awarded licenses for every category—cultivator, processor, dispensary, secure transport and testing lab—except for integrated facilities, which can produce medical cannabis products from seed to shelf. These companies are expected to present their application to the commission next week. Awards are expected on December 12.

The commission can award up to 12 licenses to cultivate cannabis, four licenses for those who want to process it and four licenses to dispense the product. There are no caps on licenses for secure transporters and testing labs.

Antoine Mordican, CEO of Native Black Cultivation, one of the companies denied a license in the first two awards, received a cultivator license on Friday.

Mordican said he is “happy to be where [he] felt [he] deserved to be.”

“I’m happy that the commission was able to hear me give my presentation and able to recognize the individual that operates the company,” he said.

The AMCC first awarded licenses in June, but scoring inconsistencies led the commission to void the awards and reevaluate the applications.

A lawsuit alleging the commission violated the Open Meetings Act halted the process again in August. That prompted the commission to rescind the awards a second time, negotiating with claimants on a possible process to move forward with the awards.

The AMCC adopted new licensing and application rules in October after months of legal dispute and stalled settlement negotiations, which set the latest round of applications in motion.

The Alabama Legislature approved a medical cannabis program for the state in 2021, but the bill authorizing the program did not allow licenses to be issued until September 1, 2022. The AMCC began accepting applications late last year.

When the product is available, patients certified by participating physicians will be able to use medical cannabis for 15 conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s Disease. Patients will have to apply for a card to obtain medical cannabis from licensed dispensers.

The law forbids smoking medical cannabis or consuming it in food. It will be available as tablets, capsules, gelatins, oils, gels, creams, suppositories, transdermal patches, or inhalable oils or liquids. Cannabis gummies will only be allowed to be peach-flavored.

12 applicants vied for the 12 cultivator licenses. Another 12 applied for four available processor licenses, while 18 have applied for the four dispensary licenses.  The commission also received 11 applications for the transport license and three applications for testing licenses.

Mordican said that as a Black man, working twice as hard comes as second nature to him. He said that from the beginning, he used every tool at his disposal to provide the commission with information about his company. He garnered over 100 comments on his application, showed up to nearly every commission meeting, and vocalized his concern that his application was not properly evaluated.

“Just as an individual, I’m relentless,” he said. “We’re going to continue to press forward and continue to help people along the way.”

This story was first published by Alabama Reflector.

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