Personal use and cultivation

Possession and consumption

What rules and restrictions govern the personal possession and consumption of cannabis in your jurisdiction?

The Drug Crimes Amendments Act 1987 (Sections 13A-12-210 et seq. of the Code of Alabama 1975) prohibits the use, production, distribution, and possession of cannabis with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration greater than 0.3% in Alabama. Alabama law also allows for an affirmative defense from prosecution for the possession of cannabidiol for persons with “debilitating medical conditions,” defined as “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition including one that produces seizures” (Id. at Section 13A-12-214.3(2)(b)). However, this affirmative defense applies only to distributions of cannabidiol in Alabama by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The sale of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription drug Epidiolex, which contains cannabidiol, is legal under Alabama law and is regulated like other prescription drugs (Id.). In addition, Epidiolex is legal in Alabama because it is derived from hemp, and hemp and its derivatives fall outside the scope of the definition of “marijuana” under Alabama law (Section 20-2-2(14) of the Code of Alabama 1975).

The Agriculture Improvement Act 2018 legalized “hemp”—defined as any part of the cannabis sativa L. plant with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less—by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of “marijuana.” In response to the new legislation, Alabama issued a notice stating that cannabis containing 0.3% or less is legal in the state. 

Cultivation

What rules and restrictions govern cultivation of cannabis for personal use?

In Alabama, it is unlawful to manufacture a controlled substance, including cannabis with a THC concentration greater than 0.3% (Section 13A-12-217 of the Code of Alabama 1975). 

However, the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018 legalized hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of “marijuana.” The Agriculture Improvement Act 2018 permits states to assume control of the regulatory authority over hemp and expressly states that it does not pre-empt them from implementing more stringent regulations regarding hemp. Alabama has yet to promulgate hemp regulations, but the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries has stated that the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act will be reviewed and amended in light of Congress’s passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act 2018. Consequently, until Alabama issues its regulations, the cultivation of hemp will remain illegal.

Use in and outside the workplace

What statutory and case law (if any) governs employers’ ability to restrict cannabis use both in and outside the workplace? Can cannabis use (even medical use) serve as legal grounds for termination?

The Alabama Drug-Free Workplace Program permits employers to implement drug policies prohibiting the use of drugs, including cannabis (Section 25-5-330 et seq. of the Code of Alabama 1975). The program does not restrict employers’ ability to take action against employees for violating drug policies (Id., Section 25-5-338(b)). Alabama law provides no employment accommodations for individuals using medicinal cannabidiol. Thus, cannabis use may serve as legal grounds for termination of employment in Alabama.

Click here to view full article.