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The Dothan City Commission has given its approval for the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries in the city limits.

The city commission’s vote comes a week after the Houston County Commission voted to allow medical cannabis dispensaries to operate in unincorporated areas of the county.

Dothan commissioners also approved amending the city’s code to include business license classifications for the cultivation, processing, and dispensing of cannabis for authorized medical purposes.

Alabama enacted its medical marijuana law in 2021. The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is accepting requests for business license applications until Oct. 17, but only a limited number of licenses are expected to be issued. Annual licensing fees for growers, processors, and dispensaries range from $30,000 to $50,000.

Along with the high licensing fees, Alabama’s law also specifies certain security measures for dispensaries and restricts how medical cannabis can be dispensed.

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“The manner in which this is dispensed or consumed is very specific in the state legislation,” City Manager Kevin Cowper said.

Only certain conditions qualify for treatment with medical cannabis under Alabama’s law. Those conditions include autism, cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illness, and others.

Alabama’s law also does not allow medical cannabis to be dispensed as raw plant material or as products that can be smoked, vaped, or eaten like food or candy. Allowed products include tablets, capsules, suppositories, nebulizers, liquids or oils for inhalers, transdermal patches, tinctures, and gels, oils or creams for topical use.

In other business, Tuesday:

– An application for a lounge retail liquor license for off-premise consumption was denied for lack of a motion. A public hearing was held on Sept. 6 regarding the request for Sandhar Liquor on Third Avenue, but city commissioners tabled the vote after residents in the surrounding neighborhood spoke against the application, expressing concerns about crime, safety, and the wellbeing of those who live nearby. During Tuesday’s meeting no city commissioner made a motion to either approve or disapprove the request, therefore it was automatically denied.

– City commissioners voted to submit an application for Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for more than $12.5 million – $10 million in the form of a low-interest loan and more than $2.5 million in grant money.

The state announced last week that Dothan and other communities had been awarded $348 million in grants and loans to upgrade water and sewer systems. Dothan’s award will go toward a project to address red water problems by replacing old cast iron, galvanized, and PVC water lines.

Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at aussery@dothaneagle.com or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.

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