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Bill would ban cannabinoid sales to those under 21, impose 5% tax


Bill would ban cannabinoid sales to those under 21, impose 5% tax

Mar 27, 2023 | 8:01 am ET
By Alander Rocha
Bill would ban cannabinoid sales to those under 21, impose 5% tax
Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, stands on the floor of the Alabama Senate on March 7, 2023. Legislators gathered Tuesday for the first day of the Alabama Legislature's 2023 regular session. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

The sponsor of Alabama’s 2021 cannabis law has filed a bill that would set rules on cannabinoid products. 

SB 66, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, would prohibit the sale, distribution, marketing, or possession of psychoactive cannabinoids, such as delta-8 THC products, to any individual under 21 years of age.

The bill would also levy an additional 5% tax on these products, on top of the state’s 4% sales tax and local taxes.

The legislation would not apply to medical cannabis. Psychoactive cannabinoids are substances that contain chemicals derived from the cannabis plant. 

Melson, who sponsored the legislation establishing Alabama’s medical cannabis program, said Friday the bill aimed to keep the products out of the hands of minors.  

“There’s just too much nonregulated out there that underage people are getting like it’s candy,” he said. “They’re just getting access to it when they shouldn’t be.”

Delta-8 THC products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Without regulation, manufacturers may use other substances or chemicals to induce similar psychoactive effects.

The FDA has also voiced concerns about marketing for these products that claim medical or therapeutical benefits.

Melissa Mullins, founder of the Alabamians 4 Medical Cannabis Freedom & Disability Rights, said that she supports the age limits but not the tax portion. She said that if there must be an increased tax, the revenue should go to the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission and put in a fund that would benefit the program in the long run.

“If we must have taxes on those sales, then it needs to be put in a patient assistance fund that can be started – we just need the right people to get it started,” she said. “Or put it back into the medical cannabis program.”

The bill identifies the 5% levy as a sales tax. Most sales taxes go to the state’s Education Trust Fund.

But Mullins said that she also believes that the products sold at gas stations aren’t tested for chemicals or other substances.

“When I go to a gas station. I’m going there for gas,” she said. “I’m not going there for medicines.”.

But she suggested an alternative to the bill that would drop the age limit and make these products only available for sale in licensed dispensaries, like CBD.

“Let’s put into place a system to where any place that has these products on the shelf, they have to be certified. They have to be licensed just like the tobacco, the alcohol. You have to have license,” she said. “And as of right now, you don’t.”

Melson said there have been incidents in his districts where children got a hold of these substances and school officials had to call an ambulance or rush them to urgent care because they consumed too much of it.

“I don’t care if they want to sell them to adults, but let’s get them out of the kids’ hands,” Melson said. “There’s no regulation on the quality or quantity of any of those products.”