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Top doctor resigns from medical cannabis commission

Szaflarski’s resignation comes as lawmakers are trying to drag the AMCC out of litigation and get the medical marijuana licensure process moving again.

Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission
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One of the nation’s top medical marijuana researchers is resigning from the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. 

UAB’s Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., and director of the UAB Epilepsy Center, notified officials on Friday that he was stepping down. A UAB spokesperson also confirmed that Szaflarski had resigned. 

Two sources who spoke with APR said Szaflarski’s official reason for resigning is that he is busy with research projects and other responsibilities. However, both said that Szaflarski has grown weary of the persistent problems with the AMCC and the many legal issues that have stymied the efforts to get much needed medical marijuana into the hands of desperate patients. 

To be certain, Szaflarski’s participation on the AMCC was important and impactful. One of the nation’s leading researchers on the efficacy of medical marijuana – and the lead researcher on numerous studies at UAB – Szaflarski was viewed as one of the most important members on the commission. His work and advice were often cited by lawmakers when crafting Alabama’s medical marijuana legislation and during the efforts to push it through. 

Szaflarski’s resignation comes as lawmakers are trying to drag the AMCC out of litigation and get the medical marijuana licensure process moving again. New legislation introduced last week would increase the number of licenses offered in many categories, including tripling the number of integrated licenses to 15. Numerous companies vying for integrated licenses have filed lawsuits against the Commission over its admittedly flawed and uneven licensing process. 

But now, even that new legislation is facing stiff pushback. At a public hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers expressed concern and skepticism about the dramatic changes and the Alabama Cannabis Coalition – an advocacy group that has helped push previous legislation – retracted its support for the new bill, calling it “a very suspicious move” to end lawsuits against the AMCC. 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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