The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission has appointed its executive director and unveiled plans to begin cultivation next year.
AL.com reported that the 14-member commission selected State Treasurer John McMillan in a unanimous voice vote to lead the newly created agency, which will license and oversee Alabama’s medical cannabis industry.
McMillan served 14 years on the State Personnel Board and is also a former commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, according to AL.com. Alabama voters twice elected him as commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Industries in 2010 and 2014, and he was elected state treasurer in 2018.
McMillan plans to accept the role and resign as state treasurer, AL.com reported, which would prompt Gov. Kay Ivey to appoint a replacement to complete McMillan’s term.
“More than anything it’s just the challenge of being able to start a significant state agency that I think stands to really help a lot of people that need it as we move forward,” McMillan told the news outlet when asked why he wants the executive director role. “We’ve had some good research going on and there’s been interest in this for a number of years. It just appeals to me with my experience in state government and government agencies, you might say fixing some of them, that this is an opportunity to start something from scratch and get it right and see it bloom.”
Medical Cannabis Commission Chair Dr. Steven Stokes told AL.com that he hopes McMillan can assume his new role by Oct. 1.
The commission now plans to ask state lawmakers to revise Alabama’s medical cannabis law to allow for cultivation to begin at an earlier date than is outlined in the current statute, according to AL.com.
The current law requires the state to begin accepting business license applications by Sept. 1, 2022, but Medical Cannabis Commission Vice Chair Rex Vaughn told the news outlet that he is in discussions with legislators to allow cultivators to be licensed sooner, in early 2022.
The Alabama Legislature is expected to meet in a special session later this year to approve new congressional and legislative district boundaries based on the 2020 Census, and lawmakers may meet in another special session to work on a prison construction bill. Industry stakeholders are optimistic that lawmakers could change the date for medical cannabis cultivation licenses during on of these upcoming sessions, AL.com reported.