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Alabama is now the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana, after Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill Monday.

The bill, Senate Bill 46, sets up a system to regulate medical marijuana from the cultivation of the plants, to processing and testing the products, to selling them in dispensaries.

Under the legislation, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of about 20 conditions, including autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain, among others.

The bill also prohibits raw cannabis, smoking, vaping and candy or baked good products. Patients would instead be allowed to purchase capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches.

Doctors will be able to recommend medical cannabis for patients who will receive medical cannabis cards to buy tablets, capsules, gel cubes and other forms of medical cannabis products.

State Senator Melson, an anesthesiologist and medical researcher, first offered the bill in 2019. That led to establishment of an 18 member Medical Cannabis Study Commission that held public hearings and recommended the legislation.

Based on the presentations and discussions, the Study Commission found that, although some medical study results are inconclusive and some results are mixed, there is strong scientific evidence that both hemp and marijuana contain compounds that provide significant relief for symptoms of certain specified medical conditions.

There was some dissent on the commission. Twelve of the 18 members voted in favor of recommending medical marijuana. Three voted against it and three abstained.

Officials have said it will be more than a year before medical marijuana products are available in Alabama. It will be a fully intrastate system. The new law creates the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, which will issue licenses to cultivators, processors, transporters, testing laboratories, and dispensaries.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries will regulate the cultivators.

The bill says the commission must set up the rules to implement the program and allow people to begin applying for licenses by Sept. 1, 2022.