In Alabama, securing a medical cannabis license is governed by stringent legal requirements, as stipulated in the Darren Wesley “Ato” Hall Compassion Act. Despite some inconsistencies acknowledged by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC), the law, as passed by the state Legislature in 2021, establishes unyielding legal criteria for applicants.
A thorough investigation by the Alabama Political Reporter has shed light on the diverse pool of applicants vying for medical cannabis integrators licenses. This scrutiny, which includes assessments of company presentations to the AMCC and independent research, reveals the varied capabilities and shortcomings of various companies.
Upon examining the specific conditions of each applicant, a clear pattern of disparities and challenges surfaces. These findings prompt significant questions about the ability of several applicants to meet the exacting standards of the Compassion Act. The analysis below offers a detailed look at each contender, focusing on three key areas: infrastructure readiness, potential legal obstacles, and operational capability and strategies.
The examination evaluates the physical and organizational structures of the companies, considering their capacity to cultivate, process, and distribute medical cannabis in compliance with state regulations.
The analysis assesses the legal hurdles faced by the applicants, including compliance with state and federal laws, potential litigation risks, and the robustness of their regulatory frameworks.
The report delves into the operational plans of the companies, scrutinizing their business models, market strategies, and sustainability plans.
This comprehensive analysis aims not only to gauge the current standing of each company but also to offer insights into the broader implications for the medical cannabis industry in Alabama. It underscores the complexities involved in navigating the legal and operational landscapes of medical cannabis, a sector that continues to evolve rapidly both in Alabama and across the United States.
Southeast Cannabis Company, LLC
Southeast Cannabis Company, LLC, lacks a cultivation facility and will not have a facility completed until 6-8 months from receiving a license. Despite owning a greenhouse, the parent company’s past legal financial troubles raise questions about their ability to finance the proposed cannabis operations.
The company has outlined post-license operational timeframes, including 60 days for cultivation, 60 days for processing, and 203 days until the opening of their first dispensary.
There is an “Agreement contingent upon license,” which involves setting up a cultivation site in Theodore and establishing five dispensaries in Theodore, Mobile, Dothan, Montgomery, and Alexander City.
Its parent company, Shore Acres Plant Farm, faced a lawsuit for $275,000 and received a summary judgment amounting to $334,644.07. However, it still owes $53,000, raising questions about the capitalization of the proposed cannabis facility.
Southern Crop Holding Company, LLC
Southern Crop Holding Company, LLC, lacks specialized cannabis facilities. The former, experienced in vegetable and flower cultivation, has a rapid cultivation and processing timeline and plans construction on a farm. Their post-license operational plans seem optimistic given the lack of existing cannabis infrastructure.
Southern Crop Holding Company, LLC, is a company that currently does not operate a medical cannabis cultivation facility. Instead, they have greenhouses dedicated to growing vegetables and flowers. Once they receive a license, their operational timeframes are set as follows: 46 days for cultivation, 115 days for processing, and it will take 115 days until the first dispensary opens. In terms of real estate, Southern Crop Holding Company, LLC leases or rents a site for cultivation and processing in Columbiana. Additionally, they have five dispensaries located in Enterprise, Cullman, Dothan, Daphne, and Alexander City.
Natural Relief Cultivation, LLC
Natural Relief Cultivation, LLC, lacks specialized cannabis facilities. The former, experienced in vegetable and flower cultivation, has a rapid cultivation and processing timeline, while the latter, tied to former Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos, plans construction on a farm. Their post-license operational plans seem optimistic given the lack of existing cannabis infrastructure.
Natural Relief Cultivation, LLC, does not currently operate a medical cannabis cultivation or processing facility. However, they have announced plans to build one on the farm of Gary Davis, who is a farmer and owns 51 percent of the company. Tony Petelos, a former Mayor of Hoover, state House Representative, and Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources, has been introduced as the company’s “grower.” The projected operational timelines post-license are as follows: 45 days for cultivation, another 45 days for processing, and the first dispensary is expected to open 213 days after obtaining the license. The company’s plans, which are contingent upon receiving a license, include establishing a cultivation and processing site in Russellville, and opening five dispensaries located in Birmingham, Gadsden, Tuscaloosa, Russellville, and Owens Cross Roads.
Trulieve AL, LLC
Trulieve AL, LLC, part of Trulieve Cannabis Corp., faces significant legal challenges, including a racketeering lawsuit and scrutiny over its CEO’s spouse’s criminal conviction. The company also faces a wrongful death lawsuit and stock market impacts from these legal issues. Despite having a building in Lowndes County, their lack of dispensary sites and facilities raises concerns.
Trulieve AL, LLC, currently does not possess any dispensary sites, medical cannabis cultivation, or processing facilities. However, they do have a building located in Lowndes County. Upon receiving a license, their projected operational timeframes are as follows: cultivation is expected to start within 14 days, processing to begin within 60 days, and the opening of their first dispensary is planned for 289 days after the license is granted. Their plans, which are contingent upon obtaining a license, include establishing a cultivation and processing site in Fort Deposit, with dispensaries set to open in Athens and Birmingham.
Insa Alabama, LLC
Insa Alabama, LLC, owns a building in Montgomery County and has plans to introduce greenhouses and containers for cannabis cultivation. They are affiliated with the multi-state operator (MSO), Insa Massachusetts.
After acquiring the necessary license, their operational timelines are set as follows: they aim to begin cultivation within 60 days, processing within 180 days, and anticipate opening their first dispensary 365 days post-license. In terms of their real estate strategy, they plan to lease or rent spaces for their cultivation and processing site in Montgomery. Additionally, they have plans to open five dispensaries in various locations, including Mobile, Birmingham, Dothan, Opelika, and Montgomery.
Alacann, LLC, owns a building in Lincoln which they intend to transform into a site for both cultivation and processing of cannabis. Their operational timelines, contingent upon receiving the necessary license, are as follows: they plan to start cultivation 300 days post-license, begin processing at 365 days, and aim to open their first dispensary 390 days after obtaining the license.
As part of their expansion strategy, which is dependent on the acquisition of a license, Alacann, LLC has proposed the establishment of five dispensaries. These dispensaries are planned to be located in Dothan, Birmingham, Gadsden, Daphne, and Russellville.
Jemmstone Alabama, LLC
Jemmstone Alabama, LLC, lacks dispensary and cultivation sites, relying on post-license agreements. Their operational timelines are ambitious given the absence of established facilities.
Jemmstone Alabama, LLC, has plans for a cultivation and processing site in Mobile, contingent upon receiving the necessary license. Their proposed operational schedule post-license is as follows: they aim to commence cultivation within 60 days, start processing at 117 days, and plan to open their first dispensary 217 days after acquiring the license.
The company’s expansion strategy, which is dependent on securing a license, includes not only the cultivation and processing site in Mobile but also the establishment of five dispensaries. These proposed dispensaries are intended to be located in Monroeville, Birmingham, Mobile, Opelika, and Northport.
Yellowhammer Holistics, LLC
Yellowhammer Holistics, LLC, lacks dispensary and cultivation sites, relying on post-license agreements. Their operational timelines are ambitious given the absence of established facilities.
Yellowhammer Holistics, LLC, currently does not possess any dispensary sites, nor do they have a medical cannabis cultivation or processing facility.
Following the acquisition of a necessary license, Yellowhammer Holistics, LLC, has outlined their operational timelines as such: they plan to begin cultivation and processing activities within 60 days each, and aim to open their first dispensary 120 days post-license.
Their business expansion, contingent upon receiving a license, includes the establishment of a cultivation and processing site in Union Springs. Additionally, they have proposed the opening of one dispensary, which is planned to be located in Montgomery.
Bragg Canna of Alabama, LLC
Bragg Canna of Alabama, LLC, an applicant with substantial farming experience and a strong team, has discussed forming a research partnership with Alabama A&M University.
Their planned operational schedule after obtaining a license is quite ambitious: they aim to start cultivation and processing within 30 days each, and plan to open their first dispensary just 60 days post-license.
For their business operations, contingent upon license approval, they intend to lease or rent a space for their cultivation and processing site in Toney. Moreover, Bragg Canna of Alabama, LLC, has proposed the opening of five dispensaries in various locations, including Huntsville, Birmingham, Cullman, Gadsden, and Tuscaloosa.
Wagon Trail Med-Serv, LLC
Wagon Trail Med-Serv, LLC, in the process of converting a hemp farm, owns a cultivation and processing facility in Hanceville. Their post-license operational timelines vary for cultivation, listing both 45 and 275 days as start times. Processing is scheduled to begin 90 days after receiving the license, with the first dispensary opening 270 days post-license. They propose establishing four dispensaries in Athens, Decatur, Montgomery, and Florence, and another in Cullman upon securing a license.
Alabama Always, LLC
Alabama Always, LLC, showcased their under-construction cultivation and processing facility in Montgomery through a video. They submitted Form F and a $2 million performance bond. Post-license, they plan to begin cultivation and processing within 45 days and open their first dispensary 167 days later. They own the Montgomery site and plan additional dispensaries in Gadsden, Mobile, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.
Hornet Medicinals, LLC
Hornet Medicinals, LLC, representing Alabama State University, is affiliated with a multi-state operator (MSO). They plan to start cultivation and processing within 105 days of licensing and open their first dispensary 149 days later. They intend to lease a Brewton site for cultivation, processing, and transport, with dispensaries in Dothan, Montgomery, and Opelika, and plans for Birmingham and Mobile.
Verano Alabama, LLC
Verano Alabama, LLC, in the past has faced a $135 million lawsuit in Nevada and other legal issues, including a RICO lawsuit. These lawsuits have been dismissed according to the company. Post-license, they plan to start cultivation and processing and open a dispensary within 180 days of obtaining a license. Their expansion includes a Luverne site and dispensaries in Birmingham, Decatur, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Dothan.
FFD Alabama Holdings, LLC
FFD Alabama Holdings, LLC, plans to use greenhouses for cultivation. Post-license, they aim to start cultivation, processing, and open a dispensary within 60 days. They intend to lease a Semmes site and establish dispensaries in Greenville, Montgomery, Thomasville, Dothan, and Mobile.
Sustainable Alabama, LLC
Sustainable Alabama, LLC, with 100 percent Alabama-based ownership, submitted Form F and a performance bond, planning to use greenhouses. They’ll start cultivation within 45 days, processing after 60 days, and open a dispensary 180 days post-license. They plan a Salem site and dispensaries in Demopolis, Birmingham, Foley, Mobile, and Dothan. They didn’t provide documentation regarding minority status.
Flowerwood Medical Cannabis, LLC
Flowerwood Medical Cannabis, LLC, will start cultivation within 60 days, processing after 90 days, and open a dispensary 120 days post-license. They own two dispensaries in Gadsden and Monroeville and plan to lease a Semmes site and establish dispensaries in Loxley, Montgomery, and Mobile.
TheraTrue, LLC’s post-license operational timeframes include cultivation and processing within 180 days, and the opening of the first dispensary in 120 days. Additionally, their agreement is contingent upon receiving a license for a cultivation and processing site in Gadsden, as well as for opening five dispensaries located in Gadsden, Montgomery, Alex City, Fairfield, and Phenix City.
A.M. Sky, LLC
A.M. Sky, LLC, will begin cultivation and processing 180 days post-license, with a dispensary 270 days later. They own an Aliceville site and plan to lease in Auburn, with dispensaries in Athens and Auburn. AM Sky, LLC states that they will plant 100 seeds and produce 1,000 tinctures within a timeframe of 10 days or less at their Aliceville facility, which is solely dedicated to cannabis operations. Their team boasts nearly 25 years of experience in the cannabis industry, encompassing almost 5 years of hemp cultivation in Alabama and 20 years of medical cannabis expertise. Furthermore, they have pledged to the AMCC that a dispensing site will be opened within 120-150 days following the award of a license.
Justice Cannabis Alabama, LLC
Justice Cannabis Alabama, LLC, aims to start cultivation and processing within 180 days and open a dispensary 120 days later. They plan a Gadsden site and dispensaries in Montgomery, Alex City, Fairfield, Gadsden, and Phenix City.
Specialty Medical Products of Alabama, LLC
Specialty Medical Products of Alabama, LLC, plans an immediate start post-license, leasing a Brewton cultivation site and a Foley site. They propose dispensaries in Bayou la Batre, Troy, Foley, Montgomery, and Opelika.
Medella, LLC’s, inaccessible application outlines a 30-day cultivation start, 150-day processing start, and a dispensary 255 days post-license. They plan a Joppa site and dispensaries in Fairfield and Joppa.
Aspire Medical Partners, LLC
Aspire Medical Partners, LLC, will start cultivation, processing, and open a dispensary within 46 days. They plan a Sylacauga site and dispensaries in Birmingham and Sylacauga.
Green Bud, LLC, and Samson Growth, LLC,, opted out of presentations, casting doubt on their readiness. Samson states its cultivation facility on State Highway 52 will secure an address if licensed.
In this analysis of the Alabama medical cannabis license applicants, a concerning pattern has emerged, casting a shadow over the state’s medical cannabis industry. The findings indicate that a significant number of applicants lack dedicated cannabis-specific facilities, a crucial element in maintaining quality and compliance. Moreover, several contenders are embroiled in legal disputes, while others have presented timelines for operational readiness that are outside the law or seem overly ambitious, raising questions about their feasibility and reliability.
Given these findings, the AMCC faces a pivotal decision-making period. The commission’s choices will have long-lasting implications, and careful consideration is needed to avoid potential legal entanglements that could arise from hasty or ill-considered approvals.
The path forward for the AMCC is clear: a thorough and discerning review of each applicant’s capabilities, legal standing, and operational plans. This approach is not merely a bureaucratic necessity but a critical step in ensuring that the state’s medical cannabis program is built on a solid foundation of compliance, safety, and public trust. As Alabama stands on the cusp of a new era in medical cannabis, the decisions made now will shape the industry for years to come.
A previous version of this report said Verano “faces” lawsuits it should have read “faced.”