The Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program required applicants to submit all materials and application fees annually, including criminal background checks. Growers and processor applicants must pay a $200 application fee and a $1,000 annual fee upon approval.
Consumers may also purchase CBD products online, typically directly through a specific brand’s website. Many online checkout processes work for CBD companies based in the United States, but some online processors consider CBD as a “restricted business,” so not all payment methods may be available.
Alabama consumers can purchase CBD products both in-person and online. Typically, CBD products are sold at CBD-specific shops and wellness and health food stores. In Alabama, pharmacies can sell CBD products over the counter, as long as they are sourced from legal producers and contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Following the 2014 Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act in 2016, tasking the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) with the development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of industrial hemp. The ADAI slowly drafted and finalized regulations in September 2018, only months before the 2018 Farm Bill was signed, which broadly legalized CBD and CBD products that contained less than 0.3% THC by weight.
There are no regulations for sales of products that meet the 0.3% THC threshold of CBD. Business or individuals that sell any cannabis product containing more than the legal amount of THC can be charged with a felony, and face a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a find of up to $30,000. Sales of cannabis to a minor can be punishable by a 10 years-to-life sentence and a maximum $60,000 fine.
The Farm Bill also endowed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the ability to regulate CBD’s labeling, therapeutic claims, and presence in foods or drinks. Despite the Farm Bill’s passage, the FDA has issued a directive that no CBD, even hemp-derived, may be added to food or beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. As time passes, the FDA has begun re-evaluating that stance on CBD products but has yet to revise rules or specifically regulate CBD products. The FDA’s slow movement has created further confusion on the state level. The FDA has historically been strict when it comes to health claims or content that could be understood as medical advice — and makes no exception for CBD. In July 2019, the FDA sent a letter to Curaleaf warning that the CBD maker was making unproven claims about its effectiveness in treating such conditions attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and opioid withdrawal. In April 2019, the FDA also warned three other CBD makers over making unproven health claims.
In 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill and legalized hemp cultivation, creating a pathway to remove cannabis from Schedule 1. The Farm Bill defined hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight and marijuana as cannabis with more than that amount. Hemp-derived CBD was thus removed from its Schedule 1 designation, but CBD derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal because of marijuana’s federally illegal status. Hemp is considered an agricultural commodity, but still must be produced and sold under specific federal regulations, which were not finalized when hemp was legalized.
Employers are not required to permit, accommodate, or allow the use of medical cannabis, or to modify any job or working conditions of any employee who engages in the use of medical cannabis or for any reason seeks to engage in the use of medical cannabis.
Employers are not prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against an individual with respect to hiring, discharging, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment as a result, in whole or in part, of that individual’s use of medical cannabis, regardless of the individual’s impairment or lack of impairment resulting from the use of medical cannabis.
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The law does not permit, authorize, or establish any individual’s right to commence or undertake any legal action against an employer for refusing to hire, discharging, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment due to the individual’s use of medical cannabis.