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Hemp business reacts to medical marijuana becoming legal in AL

Published: May. 22, 2021 at 1:47 PM EDT
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PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a medical marijuana bill into law earlier this week, making it legal for registered patients with qualifying conditions to safely access and use medical cannabis. 

While the state has a long way yet to go to get the groundwork in place, the hemp industry is already thriving in Alabama.

“Hemp will be one of the largest agricultural industries in the next 10 years,” said Galen Kelly, Chief Growth Officer Arbor Vita8.

Now with the legalization of medical marijuana, Arbor Vita8, the largest Hemp processing facility in the Southeast, is preparing for a boom in business.

Medical marijuana will require a different processing procedure.  You won’t be able to smoke it. The medical marijuana in Alabama must be turned into pills, oils and topical products.

”The real path for it and the need in the industry primarily the farmers is having processors,” said Scott Patterson, Chief Operating Officer Arbor Vita8.

Alabama’s new medical marijuana law allows people with one of 16 qualifying medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana through the recommendation of a doctor.

People suffering from cancer, depression, anxiety and seizures could benefit from medical marijuana, a close relative of hemp.

”It’s grown to make sure you don’t get high and it has all these cannabinoids that interact with your body and can have benefits,” said Sundeep Dhaliwal, Chief Financial Officer Arbor Vita8.

This is the third year that Alabama farmers have been allowed to legally grow hemp. When the Alabama Hemp program was first established, a number of first-time farmers rushed in trying to get a cut of the profits from farming hemp.

Many farmers had problems growing it and finding ways to process it.

”There weren’t people like us out there that could help them get their product into a space where it could be sold,” said Patterson.

Medical marijuana is not likely to become an option in the state for more than a year.

The new medical marijuana law authorizes only 12 licensed growers in the state which means, while many may be interested, only a few farmers will be able to grow medical marijuana in Alabama.

Plus, people who won’t qualify for medical marijuana may want to try hemp.

”People might be more open to exploring CBD, CBN, or DBG….any other of the cannabinoids from the hemp plant,” said Sundeep Dhaliwal, Chief Financial Officer.

With Arbor Vita8 already selling CBD products, they hope to expand with the new law, but it will be tightly-regulated.

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