Becoming a patient in Alabama

Summary

Originally, to become a patient eligible for CBD oil therapy under SB 174, the patient must receive a diagnosis for a debilitating epileptic condition, which is defined as "Epilepsy or other neurological disorder, or the treatment of epilepsy or other neurological disorder that, as diagnosed by a board-certified neurologist under the employment or authority of the UAB Department, produces serious, debilitating, or life-threatening seizures."

However, in 2016, HB 61 was passed, which expanded the affirmative defense to several conditions and removed the requirement that patients must be enrolled in the UAB study program.

What's Legal

The current Alabama law only authorizes an affirmative defense for the possession and use of CBD oil in limited circumstances. There is no legal access to cannabis in dried flower form, nor is there access to cannabis based products that contain more than 3% THC.

Eligible conditions

  1. Cachexia or wasting syndrome.
  2. Severe or chronic pain.
  3. Severe nausea.
  4. Seizures.
  5. Severe and persistent muscle spasms.
  6. Any other condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine.

Application process

There is no formal application process to become a patient. All that is required is required is to be diagnosed with a qualifying condition. For parents of obtaining a "prescription" from the diagnosing physician that is in a bona fide relationship with the patient. 

Parents or legal guardians of minor children who are patients are only eligible for the affirmative defense if they obtain a "prescription" from the diagnosing physician. However, physicians cannot write "prescriptions" for medical cannabis, which means that courts might not allow parents to use the affirmative defense with a mere diagnosis. 

Doctor

Under the 2014 law, only board-certified neurologists under the employment or authority of the UAB Department could  "prescribe" CBD oil. That changed in 2016 with the passage of SB 61 in 2016 which grants the right to all physicians in the state. 

To establish an affirmative defense, the patient must be in a bona fide relationship with their physicians. A "bona fide relationship" is defined as "A relationship in which a physician has ongoing responsibility for the assessment, care, and treatment of a patient's medical condition." However, the "prescription" wording may prevent physicians from participating in the program as federal courts have only recognized the right of physicians to "recommend" rather than "prescribe" medical cannabis.

Access/Caregivers

The affirmative defense for patients is also offered to the parent or legal guardian of a minor patient.

Consumption

There are no restrictions on consumption of CBD oil.

Age Limits

There are no age restrictions.

Confidentiality

The are no explicit privacy protections, but HIPPA protections offered to all medical patients also apply to medical cannabis therapy under SB 174 or SB 61.

Housing

There are no housing protections provided by SB 174 or SB 61.

Employment

There are no employment protections under

Insurance

The law is silent on whether insurance can cover CBD oil.

Out of State patients

The law only recognizing patients who have been prescribed CBD oil from board-certified neurologist under the employment or authority of the UAB Department. However, the law does not specify that the patient must be a resident of Alabama.

For More information

University of Alabama-Birmingham Department of Neurology

Quick Links

University of Alabama-Birmingham Department of Neurology