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“The court also notes that all three rounds of awards have been challenged as legally infirm.”

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC) discussed its ongoing legal battles in a virtual hearing Thursday morning.

In its first gathering since a delay issued by the court on January 3, the AMCC said that Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson also granted a motion for expedited discovery, allowing plaintiffs to take six recorded live testimonies from the commission.

The Commission objected to discovery during the ongoing hearings, and the judge has since stayed the deadlines for the depositions to allow the AMCC and plaintiffs to negotiate its scope.

“The extent to which discovery will need to be completed at this stage has yet to be determined, because we’ve not had a discussion with plaintiff’s counsel yet, as the court has asked us to do, we’re going to do that, and then the parties will report back to the court,” said AMCC attorney Mark Wilkerson during the meeting.

Wilkerson said that Anderson indicated that while January 24 remains set for the injunction hearing, it can be used to resolve outstanding discovery issues if the parties do not reach an agreement. Wilkerson predicted the injunction hearing will be postponed.

“They’re continuing dialogue and disputes over what type of discovery may be permitted at this stage of the process. And we want to get back with the parties’ counsel next week, and we’ll report back to the body,” Wilkerson said.

Last week, Anderson wrote in the order that the commission’s third round of license awards in December, following two attempts earlier in 2023, started on “uneven grounds” because there are unresolved, ongoing litigation regarding the first two.

“The court also notes that all three rounds of awards have been challenged as legally infirm: the first two rounds of awards were abandoned by action of the commission itself, and now there is a serious question as to whether the third round is also invalid,” Anderson stated in the order.

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.

This story was first published by Alabama Reflector.

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Photo elements courtesy of rawpixel and Philip Steffan.

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