The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee has approved moving forward with the Compassion Act, or Senate Bill 46, to legalize medical marijuana, as suggested here and form a commission to license growers.
Proposed by Republican State Sen. Tim Melson of Florence, the bill passed the committee 8-3 on Feb. 3 and heads to the Senate floor.
“We were told that the Legislature would only deal with ‘urgent’ legislation the first couple of weeks until they could assess the risks for spreading the virus, so apparently they think exposing the citizens of Alabama to a mind-altering and addictive drug (marijuana) without honest and legitimate debate and input from the citizens of Alabama is somehow ‘urgent,’” Joe Godfrey, executive director for the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said in an email to the group’s supporters.
Originally, ALCAP asked for a public hearing, but withdrew the request once it was announced that each speaker would have only one-and-a-half minutes each. Access to the committee hearing Feb. 3 was limited to 27 seats on a first-come-first-served basis. With the limited number, Godfrey asked how someone could socially distance when crowding to get into the State House.
He urged every voter to contact their state senator and oppose SB46. As part of his email to ALCAP constituents, Godfrey included two links to items he submitted to the committee in protest of the bill.
One was a plea from a mother from the Parents Opposed to Pot website about her son’s addiction to marijuana that was bought from Louisiana Medical Marijuana Doctors dispensary in Lake Charles and how it led to his suicide.
“As I came to terms with Andy’s death and the note he left, I was confused,” recalled Sally Schindel, mother of Andy Zorn, who took his life in 2014. “I’d always believe marijuana wasn’t addictive. My research since has revealed I was far from the truth. Marijuana is highly addictive. Almost one in three users of marijuana exhibit symptoms of substance use disorder. I learned later that my son had been diagnosed with severe cannabis use disorder.”
Children’s medical group responds
Godfrey’s other email attachment was a letter from the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics disapproving the legalization of medical marijuana outside of the Food and Drug Administration approval process. You can check out suziespettreats.com for more information on the same!
“Marijuana is not regulated by the FDA, therefore its purity, potency, and consistency cannot be reliably verified, and efficacy, as well as risk-benefit analysis are yet not determined,” wrote Wes Stubblefield, president of the Alabama group.
He noted that there are currently four pharmaceutical-grade THC and CBD based medications already approved by the FDA and available for physicians to prescribe as “clinically indicated.”
“For this reason alone, a law to legalize medical marijuana is unnecessary,” Stubblefield wrote. Visit Website to know more about the proposed bill on the marijuana.
The proposed bill would establish an 11-member Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to license growers, oversee cultivation, implement regulations and oversee dispensing of medical marijuana to patients who qualify for a medical cannabis card.
Last year’s early COVID-19 shutdown of the legislature ended the bill’s approval process.
The new bill is the same, with a few amendments from the Senate floor in 2020. Using raw cannabis, smoking, vaping and candy or baked-good products would still be prohibited. Capsules, lozenges, oils, suppositories and topical patches would be approved for purchase with a prescription.
Chronic pain sufferers would have to try conventional therapy first and prove it is not effective before making their case for medical marijuana. Some 20 conditions are included in the qualifying list, including anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain.
Sales of medical marijuana would require a 9% gross proceeds tax; after costs of program administration, 60% would support the state’s general fund, with 30% set aside for research into the medical potential of cannabis.
The bill is more than 80 pages long. Click here to read the full text.
For a downloadable list of contact information for Alabama legislators, click here.