The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission voted Thursday to make Alabama Treasurer John McMillan the executive director of the commission.
McMillan was chosen after a lengthy search by a subcommittee of the commission. The subcommittee narrowed it down to three candidates who were interviewed on Thursday morning. The subcommittee recommended McMillan to the committee. His hiring was passed unanimously.
The commission voted to set his starting pay at $209,877.66.
Vice Chairman Rex Vaughn explained that this number is in line with class A members of the governor’s cabinet.
McMillan was elected Alabama state treasurer in 2018. McMillan served two terms as Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries from 2011 to 2019. Prior to that, McMillan served as executive director of the Alabama Forestry Association for 20 years and as commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He served two terms in the Alabama Legislature and served on the Baldwin County Commission. McMillan has a twin brother, Steve, who represents Baldwin County in the Alabama House of Representatives.
Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to appoint someone to fill the remaining 16 months of McMillan’s term as Alabama state treasurer. The treasurer would have to face voters next spring in the major party primaries on May 24, 2022.
“The Commission made an excellent choice,” Alabama Cannabis Industry Association President Chey Garrigan said. “We look forward to working with Director McMillan as Alabama builds its medical marijuana business from the ground up.”
In other business, Vaughn told the commission that they are working with state Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, on legislation to move the permitting for marijuana growers forward to allow the planting of a 2022 crop.
Vaughn said that there will a special legislative session at the end of September. Vaughn was hopeful that this legislation could be addressed in the special session. Vaughn said that Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon supports the legislation, but anything that would be filibustered the Legislature won’t have time for in the special session.
Chairman Dr. Steven Stokes said that he has reached out to the Attorney General’s office to find out if it would be a violation of the state open meetings law if groups of commissioners secretly visited hemp farms and processors without notifying the media. Stokes said that no one from the attorney general’s office was unavailable to appear during that meeting.
The commission is looking at adopting some version of either the Ohio or Louisiana medical cannabis law establishing rules for marijuana dispensaries. Possession of marijuana in raw plant form, unless you are a grower or processor, will remain illegal in Alabama.
Alabama will not have a smokable or vapable product available. Patients must have a demonstrable medical need and a doctor’s recommendation in order to obtain medical marijuana. The commission hopes that they will be able to get product to Alabamians as soon as fall of 2022.