Medical Marijuana & CBD Oil in Alabama [2021 Updated Guide]

For cannabis and hemp users across the United States, the laws surrounding these plants are often confusing. We know that marijuana is federally illegal. However, MMJ is legal in over two-thirds of states.

CBD itself isn’t legal federally, but hemp is. One would expect that CBD oil is easy and legal to purchase in medical marijuana states. Yet even this isn’t always the case as few states have dedicated CBD laws.

The guides we create at WayofLeaf are designed to help you understand the laws of each state. Today, we look at whether CBD oil in Alabama is legal. First, however, let’s see what the state says about cannabis.

What Are the Marijuana Laws in Alabama?

Alabama banned cannabis in 1931, six years before the Marijuana Tax Act outlawed it nationally. The state has a reputation as one of the worst places in America to get caught in possession of cannabis. However, this is about to change for eligible MMJ patients at least.

Alabama has seen multiple failed attempts to legalize medical marijuana. A 2012 bill that proposed MMJ for 24 conditions didn’t make it past the committee. State Senator Bobby Singleton reintroduced it three years later with minor changes. On this occasion, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed it. However, the bill didn’t make it to the Senate floor.

One Senator described it as “bad legislation.” Yet High Times suggested it was the most impressive piece of MMJ legislation yet seen in the South.

Finally, the breakthrough came. Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 46 into law in May 2021. It permits the use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation for a select group of qualifying medical conditions. It is only possible to use MMJ if a physician certifies that traditional medications have failed to help your condition. The bill does not permit the sale or use of food products such as candies or cookies.

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Cannabis Penalties in Alabama

However, eligible patients can’t apply for a medical marijuana card until 2022. Therefore, the existing penalties for cannabis use in Alabama will apply until then.

At present, the possession of any amount of marijuana in Alabama is a misdemeanor. You could receive up to one year in prison and a $6,000 fine for being caught with one gram! If you have cannabis for anything other than personal use, it is a Class C Felony. This means a mandatory minimum of one year and one day in prison with a fine of up to $15,000. The maximum sentence is ten years.

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Sale of any amount is a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of two years, increasing to 20. The sale of cannabis by someone aged 18+ to a minor could result in 10 years to life in jail.

In March 2021, an Alabama Senate Committee approved a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession. The proposal would ensure that the possession of up to two ounces is a simple violation. The offense would result in a fine of up to $250.

The bill also provides that an individual convicted of possession could ask the courts to expunge their conviction. The court can grant it if the individual doesn’t have any other violations, misdemeanors, or felonies in the previous five years.

Is CBD Oil Permitted in Alabama?

CBD is broadly tolerated in Alabama, although there isn’t any legislation that explicitly outlines its legality. Governor Robert Bentley signed the first bill that permitted CBD oil in Alabama in April 2014.

Known as Carly’s Law, it allowed the University of Alabama to provide non-intoxicating CBD oil to children with debilitating seizures as part of a clinical study. The legislation enabled individuals or their caregivers to use affirmative defense if caught with CBD oil possession of up to 3% THC.

In May 2016, Governor Bentley signed Leni’s Law. It was named in honor of Leni Young, a young girl who used CBD and saw an enormous seizure frequency reduction. Alas, the state still restricted access to cannabinoids, and patients required a doctor’s recommendation.

In 2019, inspired by its medical potential and public pressure, CBD products were legalized in Alabama.

In 2016, the state legislature passed the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act. It decreed that the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) created a licensing and inspection program for industrial hemp cultivation. The ADAI developed regulations by September 2018, which effectively permitted CBD products with a maximum of 0.3% THC by dry weight.

Within months, the 2018 Farm Bill formally legalized the growth of hemp with no more than 0.3% THC. Soon enough, the state’s Attorney General, Steve Marshall, made an important announcement. He affirmed that CBD products sold by licensed vendors with a maximum of 0.3% THC by dry weight were legal in Alabama.

In July 2019, Governor Kay Ivey signed SB 225 into law. It rescheduled and redefined CBD to align with federal rules. This legislation enabled pharmacies in Alabama to sell CBD products.

Industrial Hemp in Alabama

The ADAI created a hemp cultivation program in September 2018. However, it was the Farm Bill that confirmed its legality in many peoples’ eyes. The ADAI licensed over 180 farmers to grow hemp in Alabama in 2019, and the state saw over 2,000 acres of the crop planted that year.

The state program is up and running, and the number of licensed farmers has already increased significantly. Estimates vary, but it is believed that over 600 farmers were approved for licenses in 2020.

The ADAI requires applicants to submit fees and documentation annually; this includes criminal background checks. The annual fee is $1,000, and there is also a $200 application fee. The ADAI mandates that all processed hemp products contain a maximum of 0.3% THC. Growers must pay the $200 testing fee.

Any business that sells products containing more than 0.3% THC could get charged with a felony. Finally, farmers must submit reports regularly to the ADAI. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $500, along with the revocation of licenses.

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Where to Buy CBD Oil in Alabama

There seem to be no limits on the amount of CBD oil you can buy as an adult in Alabama. That is, as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.3% THC. It is possible to purchase CBD oil from dedicated stores, along with wellness and health food stores. Pharmacies in Alabama are also allowed to sell legal CBD over the counter to adults.

Finally, you can purchase CBD products online through a brand’s official website. Most CBD companies find that they have little difficulty sending CBD to Alabama. No matter what product you buy, make sure it includes third-party lab reports.

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil in Alabama

The state of Alabama has yet to decriminalize marijuana officially. However, it recently passed a medical marijuana bill into law. Eligible patients will have the chance to apply for an MMJ card in 2022. Until then, however, the current laws and penalties remain in place.

If you’re caught in possession of a tiny amount of marijuana, you could go to prison. It seems likely that the state will introduce decriminalization sooner rather than later, however.

As for CBD oil, it is now legal to purchase in Alabama. That is, as long as it comes from hemp and contains a maximum of 0.3% THC. Alabama residents have a wide variety of options, as there don’t seem to be many CBD product restrictions.

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