Is weed legal in Alabama?
Medical marijuana is legal in the cotton state.
Recreational cannabis is illegal in Alabama. First-time possession of personal amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor, while repeated possession or possession with intent to sell is a felony.
In 2014 Gov. Robert Bentley signed an amendment to the state’s criminal code that became known as Carly’s Law. It enabled the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to provide non-psychoactive CBD oil to children with seizures as part of a clinical study.
Sen. Bobby Singleton in 2015 proposed the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act, which would have enabled patients with 25 severe medical conditions to access medical cannabis. The bill never reached the Senate floor for a vote.
On July 1, 2016, Leni’s Law was passed to amend Carly’s Law, permanently allowing the possession and use of CBD oil by those suffering from a debilitating medical condition as diagnosed by their physician.
In July 2019, Gov. Kay Ivey signed SB 225, which redefined and rescheduled CBD to align with federal definitions in the 2018 Farm Bill and allowed Alabama pharmacies to sell CBD products.
Alabama seemed poised to legalize medical marijuana in early 2020 when life in America ground to a halt amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate passed SB 165, the Compassion Act, by a solid margin but the House, which seemed to support the bill, never got a chance to vote as the legislature adjourned early.
In mid-2021 the state took up the issue of medical marijuana again and this time the bill made it all the way and was signed by Gov. Ivey in May. SB 46, the Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act, legalized medical cannabis for a list of 16 conditions if other treatments had failed or marijuna is the standard of care. The law outlaws consumption on school grounds and provides no protection for patients who may need to use medical marijuana while working. The legislation includes a residency requirement not just for patients but also for businesses, to avoid “an influx of companies engaged in the recreational production of marijuana.”
SB 46 set up the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to create the registry system, and license processors, transporters, testing labs, and dispensaries. It tasked the Department of Agriculture and Industries with licensing and regulating cannabis cultivation in the state.
Where is it safe to purchase?
SB 46 legalized medical marijuana but dispensaries aren’t operational yet. When they are, patients and caregivers will be able to purchase up to a 60-day supply of medical cannabis. Recommending physicians determine what a daily supply is but it can’t exceed 50mg a day, unless the patient hasn’t responded to treatment for 90 days or is diagnosed with a terminal condition. Then it can be 75mg a day.
Allowable forms of medical cannabis include:
- Non-sugar coated cubes (gummies)
- Transdermal patches
- Other forms for use with inhalers or nebulizers
There are no regulations for sales of CBD products that fall below the 0.3% THC threshold. Selling any cannabis product containing more than the legal amount of THC is a felony that carries a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000. Sales of cannabis to a minor can be punishable by a ten years-to-life sentence and a maximum $60,000 fine.
Typically, CBD products are sold at CBD-specific shops and wellness and health food stores. In Alabama, pharmacies can sell CBD products over the counter, as long as they are sourced from legal producers and contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Consumers may also purchase CBD products online, typically directly through a specific brand’s website. Many online checkout processes work for CBD companies based in the United States, but some online processors consider CBD a “restricted business,” so not all payment methods may be available.
Where is it safe to consume?
Consumption of CBD is legal anywhere. Consumption of marijuana with more than 0.3% THC is illegal everywhere in Alabama. The rules for medical cannabis are still in the works but SB 46 states that consumption on the grounds of schools or prisons is illegal.
Possession and cultivation limits
Registered patients who are 19 years old or older and caregivers can legally possess up to 70 daily doses of medical cannabis. The recommending physician determines what constitutes a daily dose but it can’t exceed 75mg THC.
Cultivation is illegal in Alabama. An individual cultivating a marijuana plant at home for personal use can be charged with trafficking cannabis, which is considered a felony. Except for patients and caregivers, possessing any amount of processed cannabis is considered a misdemeanor with up to one year in prison or a $6,000 fine. Those convicted of possessing marijuana for any purpose other than personal use may face a felony and up to ten years in prison and a $15,000 maximum fine. Decriminalization was set to be taken up in the Senate before the coronavirus shut-down in 2020.
Medical marijuana program
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is still setting up the program. When it’s operational, patients will need to visit a certifying physician who can set a daily dose amount and form of medical cannabis the patient can purchase. The law stipulates that the commission will set the specifics around THC percentage and maximum daily doses but it also caps THC at 50mg a day unless the patient hasn’t improved after 90 days or has a terminal diagnosis. In either of those cases, the max goes up to 75mg a day. Minor patients are not allowed to consume any cannabis with more than 3% THC for any condition.
Qualifying conditions include:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Cancer- or HIV/AIDS-related cachexia (wasting), nausea, vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain
- Chronic or intractable pain
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy or other seizure-related condition
- Nausea not related to pregnancy or cannabis use
- Panic disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Spasticity associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or multiple sclerosis
- Terminal disease
- Tourette syndrome
Medical cannabis must be tested for:
- Cannabinoid content and potency
- Chemical contamination
- Heavy metals
- Residual pesticides, growth regulators, and solvents
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries requires seed and crop testing to confirm that the CBD product contains less than 0.3% THC. It also requires processors to test for pesticides in accordance with existing agricultural pesticide laws. There are no requirements for posting test results on labels or in stores. But retailers are required to keep the test results for each product and provide those to customers who ask.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alabama’s criminal code says that for everyone except medical cannabis patients, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class D felony, but you should consult an attorney for specific legal questions.
CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC is legal in Alabama.
There are lots of lakes and mountains so recreation opportunities abound. Cannabis, however, is illegal in Alabama except in the form of CBD oil derived from hemp with less than 0.3% THC. Medical cannabis is also legal for registered patients and caregivers.
While we can’t predict the future, we do know that Alabamians can’t petition to get an medical marijuana initiative added to the ballot. Any path to legalize marijuana would have to go through the state legislature. The state did legalize medical cannabis in 2021 but made it very clear that this does not open the door to recreational consumption.
Alabama’s criminal code says possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class D felony for anyone other than registered medical cannabis patients and their caregivers. But you should consult an attorney for specific legal questions.
Other than what’s listed above under medical cannabis, all forms of marijuana, including plants, are illegal in Alabama.