Alabama Cannabis Industry Association Frequently Asked Questions

Medical

Are any cannabis products approved by the FDA?


Yes, one medication with natural cannabiniods is approved by the FDA to treat certain types of epilepsi. That medication is Epidiolex. It contains cannabinoid (CBD oil) and is approved for children 1 year or older who have Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis complex. Also, three medications with synthetic THC (brand name-Marinol, Syndros, and Cesamet) are approved for treating nausea associated with cancer or chemotherapy.




Has anyone ever died from ingesting the cannabis plant in any form?


Despite its common recreational and medical use in the U.S. for decades (illegal, but still very common) and it being legal in some states for years now, the 2019 American Association of Poison Control Annual Report rates cannabis last as a cause of drug/pharmaceutical/poison death, below alcohol, acetaminophen, antidepressants, antihestamines, NSAIDS (aspirin and ibuprofen), and muscle relaxers. According to an American Addiction Centers analysis of fatality records from 1999 to 2014 (15 years), cannabis-caused deaths were 18, below other prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Poisoning Deaths by Cause 2012-2014.




Why hasn't there been more research into the medical benefits of marijuana?


Federal laws that date back to the 1970s present large obstacles to researchers because it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug--with the strongest restrictions. That means the government has it classified as more dangerous than cocaine and in the same classification as heroine.

Reserachers must register with the Drug Enforcement Agency, undergo background checks, and track and discard the substance after research. And there's only one place they are allowed to get it: the University of Mississippi.

That source limits the type, potency, and form of cannabis it provides, whereas today's dispensories offer a variety of the cannabis plant extracts in different forms, all of which need to be studied.

Some have started getting cannabis-based drugs from other countries for research.

Only recently, in December of 2020, the DEA changed its rules to allow more growers of cannabis for research.





ACIA

Why did you form this organization?


Our founder discovered some children with epilepsi were greatly benefited from a certain cannabis product. Yet, it was illegal to get it in Alabama at the time. They had to travel out of state. So there was a need to educate politicians and the public of the public health and econcomic benefits of changing policy about cannabis products. And the collective voice is the way to do that.




Have you made any progress or had any accomplishments?


We were formed in 2019. And we created our current website in January 2021. Our executive director and others have been speaking to politicians on needed policy changes. You can see some of the news coverage these efforts received. Also, you can see our advocacy activities in our blog.

Since we received IRS approval for a 501(c)6, we've increased the momentum by bringing on members and laying out a lobbying strategy.




How many members do you have in the association?


We started actively recruiting members in February, 2021, so we are early in the membership drive. We are are continually receiving inquiries and some have joined spontaneously after they found us through their own search. Check out our page with a partial list of our Industry and Association Members.




Is the ACIA in favor of recreational or religious use of marijuana?


As our name states, our association advocates for medical use of cannabis products and the businesses needed to produce and sell such products. Since advocating for recreational or religious use of marijuana is not part of our mission, that's not part of our activities. You can see more details of our position on what the legislation should include on our About Us page.





The Laws

Is it likely that you will succeed in getting a medical marijuana bill passed in such a "red" state in the Bible Belt?


Absolutely. All political positions and religious persuasions want a strong economy and healthier Alabamanians. State polititions and residents are now realizing the financial and health benefits of the responsible use of cannabis/hemp products. Most agree that Alabama does not need to miss out on this opportunity. Going back in time: Currently, The Compassion Act (amended from the 2020 version) has passed the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee and will be considered by the Alabama Senate in 2021.

In 2020, the state Senate passed a Republican-sponsored bill, The Compassion Act, for medical use of marijuana. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not presented to the Alabama House of Representatives that year.

In 2019, Alabama passed 2 bills that allow commercial cannabis growing for CBD oil in the state.




Is CBD oil legal in Alabama?


Yes, within certain limits. Signed in 2019, SB 225 aligned Alabama's laws to the definitions of CBD oil in the federal 2018 Farm Bill. And it allowed Alabama pharmacies to sell it. That federal law says a cannabis plant that has .3% of THC or less is not marijuana and thus not a federally controlled substance. It also determined that the FDA is the regulatory agency for products that are under this level of THC, which is defined in the law as " hemp." Before that, in 2016, Leni's Law (of Alabama) allowed a patient to take CBD oil to treat a debilitating condition if it is prescribed by a physician with whom he/she has a doctor/patient relationship.
Before that, in 2014, Carly's Law (of Alabama) allowed UAB to provide non-psychoactive CBD oil to children with seizures as part of a clinical study for up to 5 years. (Since then, the FDA has approved the drug to treat 2 forms of epilepsi.)




How did marijuana become a Schedule I drug?


In the Colonial Era up to the Civil War, hemp was grown for rope, sails, and clothing, giving it a favorable public opinion. In the mid-1800s, it started being used for medical purposes in the U.S.

A change occured in the early 1900s with an increase of Mexican immigrants who used "marihuana" recreationally. The fear of the unknown "marihauna" (despite acceptance for decades of what they knew as medicinal "cannabis") and fear of Mexicans taking jobs during the Great Depression caused some states to outlaw marijuana.

The first federal law against marijuana was in 1932, even though the New York Academy of Medicine determined even then that it did not induce violence, or insanity, or lead to addiction or other drug use. The laws got more restrictive in the 1950s.

Then public sentiment started changing toward decriminalizing it. But, after the Marijuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional by the courts, led by President Richard Nixon, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, making it completely illegal and classifying it as a Schedule I drug in 1970, which means it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

A Nixon-appointed Shafer Commission recommended decriminalizing or giving it a lower-level classification. But Nixon disregarded that recommendation.

John Ehrlichman, admitted later in his life, that the Nixon-era "War on Drugs" had another goal. In 1994, he is reported to have said to a reporter, "We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news"

The quote became public in 2016, and its veracity is questioned. He is no longer alive to confirm or dispute it. However, even those who question it admit Nixon had racist views, and he resigned in disgrace for using government agencies to hurt his political opponents.





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