MADISON, Alabama — On Monday, Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 46 into law, legalizing cannabis for people with certain medical conditions, but medical marijuana products won't be hitting the shelves right away.
It's estimated to take about fifteen months before medical cannabis is available to Alabamians.
Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, introduced Senate Bill 46, which creates the Alabama Medical Commission tasked with regulating medical marijuana in the state.
Before medical marijuana can be put on shelves throughout the state, members of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission must first be appointed. Then, they have to develop the rules on how it can be distributed.
There will be a limited number of licensed dispensaries allowed throughout the state. People should be able to start applying for licenses by September 2022.
Dispensaries will only be allowed in cities and counties that approve them.
Earth Strong, LLC Owner & CEO Draenard Jackson says this has been a long time coming.
"The number one question we get is I know you don't sell marijuana but what's the closest thing to it that can help me with my pain, help me with my anxiety, my depression, my ailment," said Jackson.
Over fifteen medical conditions are approved. The legislation will allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for chronic pain, nausea and weight loss from cancer, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, autism, sickle cell and terminal illnesses.
"Signing SB 46 is an important first step. 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," Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. "This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied."
To buy medical marijuana, people must be recommended by a physician and approved for a medical cannabis card.
Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski, a professor of neurology at UAB, said, "The patient will need to have first a correct diagnosis or affirmed diagnosis and then they will have to try or have tried several standard therapies, so medical cannabis will not be prescribed or recommended as the first or second or even third therapy probably."
The new law does not allow smoking, vaping, or edibles. Dispensaries will only be allowed to sell medical marijuana pills, oils, and inhalers.
To read the full bill, click here.
WATCH: Earth Strong owner shares how CBD helps with anxiety, depression