MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As of Thursday, Alabamians can take the first step to apply for medical cannabis dispensary licenses through the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

Once the Commission receives applications, the evaluation process begins to see who will get those limited licenses available.

Commission Director John McMillan is watching to see how many people apply.

“The sooner we know how many applicants we are likely to have, it’ll help us a lot in preparing for that next step,” McMillan said.

12 licenses for cultivators, four for processors, four for dispensaries and five for integrated facilities are up for grabs. Each license allows for different operations within the industry.

As of now, it’s not something all parts of the state can participate in. So far, a handful of cities and counties passed resolutions approving sales, with Tuscaloosa City Council being the latest this week. McMillan expects more will follow.

“I think we’ll see cities and counties buy in. It’s an economic development for some of them,” McMillan said.

Assuming Prattville joins that list, Xaviar Carr is hoping to get in on the industry. He’s a veteran who runs House of Hemp, a CBD store.

After serving in Iraq, Carr says he knows the benefits medical cannabis can provide for PTSD and other conditions.  

“I know firsthand, being from a state where medical marijuana is legal how medical marijuana helps out people — whether cancer patients, Parkinson’s, long-term pain. It’s amazing what you can do with a plant versus what you can do with a pill,” Carr said.

Carr is planning to apply. He says he’s not deterred by the $2,500 application fee, and if approved, an annual fee between $30,000 to $50,000 depending on the type of license.

Those costs are within the parameters set by the legislature, as well as in line with what other states of similar size and population are charging, according to McMillan.

“The fee is actually low enough for a small business to get involved in. I’m actually happy about that, because there are some states where the fee is so high you have to have a big financial backer just to get involved in something you’re passionate about,” Carr said.

Applications will be issued to those who submitted a request on Oct. 24, and they are due back to the commission by Dec. 30. Those interested can apply online on the commission’s website.

McMillan estimates patients will be able to get medical cannabis by December 2023, taking into account the licensing process and grow time.