Following the multimonth saga that has been Alabama’s medical marijuana licensing struggle, the state commission charged with the task finalized its first round of permitting, after picking five companies as winners of the coveted integrated licenses.
The integrated licenses – which are separate from the other stand-alone dispensary, cultivation, processor, transporter, and testing lab permits – allow the holders to perform every function along the supply chain with the exception of testing. It’s Alabama’s version of a vertically integrated cannabis permit.
This week, the Alabama Reflector reported, the final winners included:
- Trulieve AL Inc.
- Sustainable Alabama LLC
- Wagon Trail Med-Serv LLC
- Flowerwood Medical Cannabis LLC
- Specialty Products of Alabama
Only Sustainable Alabama and Flowerwood were also among the first winners picked back in June, when the commission made its first attempt at licensing. One was replaced by the commission in its second licensing attempt in August, when mulitstate operator Verano Holdings lost its spot to Insa Alabama. Ultimately both those companies and most of the other original winners were passed over.
The entire process has been fraught with litigation, which is what has forced much of the AMCC permitting restarts since June. More than two dozen applicants have sued the regulators over various allegations of irregularities.
At least one more lawsuit has already been filed, by Enchanted Green LLC, following the other license types being re-awarded in the first week of December. The Reflector reported that another integrated license applicant that lost this week, Alabama Always, which has already sued the commission three times this year, has not ruled out suing again.
On Dec. 1, the AMCC chose 20 license winners for the other five permit categories, bringing the total now to 25 medical marijuana licensees.
After the integrated license winners were chosen this week, however, regulators expressed hope that they’re nearing the finish line on permitting and can move on to getting the industry operational.
“Maybe the third time is a charm,” AMCC Chair Rex Vaughn said at the meeting.
The new medical cannabis industry is expected to have dispensaries open and serving patients sometime next year, AL.com reported, though when exactly is still somewhat murky. There are 37 dispensaries already planned in 21 cities, and sales launches appear dependent on each retailer.
Wagon Trail Med-Serv CEO Joey Robertson told AL.com that his company may be able to start serving patients as soon as late spring next year. Specialty Medical Products’ COO Ray French said his company is also “ready to go.”
Before any of the winners are actually issued licenses, however, they first must complete more paperwork with the state, pay permit fees, and pass site inspections, AL.com reported. That won’t happen before Jan. 9.
The restrictive MMJ program still prohibits smokable flower, however. Companies are only allowed to make and sell gummies, tablets, capsules, tinctures, patches, oils, and similar medical-style cannabis goods.