The Northport City Council voted Monday night to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city, as Tuscaloosa did earlier this year.

The decision hardly means cannabis will be available immediately -- state officials say that won't begin until 2023 at the earliest, after the state has reviewed and processed business applications to sell the product.

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Instead, the Northport Council's Monday decision will allow businesses who are granted licenses from the state to apply to open storefronts in Northport -- the council will then have to approve those individual applications.

The resolution was introduced for a first reading Monday night, but the council voted to suspend normal rules and take a vote immediately instead of waiting until its next meeting to consider the matter. The five-member council voted unanimously to grant the resolution.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission received more than 600 requests from businesses to apply to sell medicinal marijuana, and those businesses now have until the end of 2022 to fill out those forms and return them along with a $2,500 application fee.

The AMCC will then grant or deny all applications in late June 2023 and issue business licenses in July, which is likely the earliest city leaders in Tuscaloosa and Northport could consider proposals to open dispensaries locally.

Neither vote makes recreational marijuana legal, and medical marijuana will only be prescribed to treat certain conditions including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cancer, Crohn's Disease, Depression, Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Panic Disorder, Parkinson's Disease, Persistent nausea, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sickle Cell Anemia, Multiple Sclerosis or spinal cord injury, terminal illnesses, Tourette's Syndrome
and other pain-causing chronic conditions.

For updates from both cities as they develop, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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