Your Voice

Letter to the editor in support of keeping medical cannabis legal

By Grady Thornton
Birmingham, Ala.

My brother Buster was dying. We both began to weep as he spoke of his bleak prognosis. We had gone through the deaths of both parents and several aunts and uncles. Now we faced his death as well.

The next few months would be torturous for Buster. When he was diagnosed in January 1982, he had three small spots on his spinal column. The doctor referred to them as “hot spots.”

When he died in July 1983, the doctor said his whole skeleton was glowing in the scans. There were tumors in his chest and more on his brain.

I would have done anything to alleviate his pain and nausea because conventional medicine was not working. Now I believe medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana, could have made his life a little less agonizing.

Legalization in Alabama

Medical cannabis is now legal in Alabama. Scores of concerned professionals came together in a united effort to bring comfort to a suffering segment of our society.

I am a politically conservative evangelical Christian. My personal experience with my brother, my research and my faith all lead me to support the use of medical cannabis to help relieve the suffering of fellow human beings.

The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission was created to oversee the industry and implement careful regulations. AMCC is guided by a 2,000-page operations manual that covers almost every conceivable aspect of the process.

The commission includes experts in the fields of oncology, neurology, pediatrics, pulmonology, biochemistry, farming, banking, health care law and law enforcement.

Some argue medical cannabis is legal because of greed and control over legislators.

I disagree. The legislators are neither demonic nor duped.

Alabama’s legalization of medical cannabis is perhaps the most studied, regulated and efficient program in the nation.

I believe this is the most important move in modern medicine in Alabama thus far in the millennium.

Alabama has legalized marijuana derivatives for medical purposes only.

The Alabama law will allow registered doctors to issue a medical card for a range of conditions, including autism, cancer-related weight loss and chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, seizure-causing conditions, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD and other illnesses characterized by chronic pain for which conventional therapies and opiates should not be used or are ineffective.

Read that list again and notice how many people you know who are afflicted by one or more of those conditions. Perhaps you have suffered from one of them yourself.

The AMCC website indicates the medical cannabis will be highly regulated in quality and quantity. Smaller doses will be used at first, then increased only under strict  procedures and only for limited conditions.

At the top dose level, 75 milligrams, the patient will have to surrender their driver’s license as long as they are taking that amount.

Parents or guardians can register and be approved to allow children to receive measured doses of medical cannabis for the conditions listed earlier.

At age 19, a person may apply for a medical card and may be approved without the consent of the parent.

Many Alabamians have been reluctant to embrace medical cannabis because of the justified fear we have of illicit drug use.

Most Alabamians have seen the wreckage caused by drug abuse.

We have been afraid medical cannabis would create more addicts, more crime and more destroyed youth.

This is due to our healthy fear of drug abuse and our lack of understanding of medical cannabis.

I have addiction in both sides of my birth family, and I have seen it in every phase of my career as a counselor.

It is heartbreaking to see what addiction can do — not just to the addict, but to their friends and family too. I would never advocate for something that would cause the curse of addiction.

Some opponents of medical cannabis regularly refer to regulated dispensaries as “pot shops.” That is deceptive and an insult to those who will benefit from medical cannabis.

Two organizations for which I have great respect, the Eagle Forum and Alabama Citizens Action Program, oppose medical cannabis and AMCC.

I think these organizations are operated by God-fearing people who have the welfare of His children in mind.

Opposite viewpoint

On this issue, however, I must disagree. (ALCAP’s opposition on the issue ran in a previous issue and can be found at tabonline.org.)

The Alabama Baptist State Convention met in Birmingham in November and passed a resolution urging repeal of the 2021 law that legalized medical cannabis.

We cannot let that happen.

We cannot let our fear of illicit drug use blind us to the medically beneficial use of a natural substance to treat the curse of disease and pain.

Given the list of treatable conditions listed earlier, support of medical cannabis will surely benefit all of us.

To see how carefully AMCC has structured the program, visit amcc.alabama.gov and educate yourself about the process.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Grady Thornton is an Alabama Baptist and a citizen advocate for medical cannabis. He is retired from a counseling career that included work in the areas of crisis intervention, suicide prevention, domestic violence and at-risk youth.


Share the Light of the World

This time of year, I love to look at Christmas light displays.

If you go to the mountains to see them or even to a place near you that has majestic lights, it’s breathtaking.

People travel great distances to see these popular places with Christmas lights and displays.

These are the questions we must consider as followers of Christ:

Are we displaying Christ in our lives daily as a testimony of how His light split the darkness of sin in our lives?

Are we displaying the light of hope in challenging times in our lives?

When you have to wait in a long line to purchase a Christmas gift, can folks see the light of Christ shining brightly in your life?

What happens when you go to a shopping center and the traffic in the parking lot is heavy? Do folks see the light of Christ on your face, or do they instead see frustration?

When you go to a restaurant that is packed and short staffed,  are you burning brightly for the One you serve to the person  who is serving your meal?

Let’s draw close to the Lord and be a display of His light during Christmas.

First, share your testimony today with someone who is not a follower of Christ. Tell how the Light split the darkness of sin in your life.

Second, do you know someone who is going through a dark valley of loneliness, depression, grief, illness, divorce or another difficult situation?

Seek to encourage that person today and throughout this season of light.

Steve Sellers
Interim associational director
Friendship Baptist Association


“We can go through life doing all kinds of things in the name of the Lord, and if we don’t do it with love, we’re just a clanging cymbal,” said Buddy Champion, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, during his message at the state’s annual meeting.

“I’m just praying that here in America, here in Alabama, that next generation will know the Lord because you and I were faithful in the present,” said Joel Carwile, pastor of First Baptist Church Athens.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you can walk and you can pray. We need to be doing more and more of that because that’s where the seeds are able to be planted, where the soil has been wet and tilled. That’s where the churches are going to grow,” said Kathie Aiken, on-site coordinator — alongside her husband, Dewey — for North Carolina Baptists on Mission.

“God has used us while we’re in this little RV.  … God uses you no matter where you are,” said Karla Rossi-Gonzalez, who shares the gospel and ministers in RV camps alongside her husband, Henry.

“The experience was painful and life changing, affecting our entire family,” he noted. “We now believe the Lord allowed us to go through that season to transform us,” said Barry Holcomb, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Belmont, Mississippi. Holcomb and his wife, Kathi, started a ministry, Remember the Way, that helps couples find their way back to fruitful ministry after a season of conflict.

“Why can’t we work together for the greatest good? We see the church as the congregation. God sees the church as His body,” said Mike Carlisle, director of missions for the San Diego Southern Baptist Association.

Other Bible-believing churches are not your competition, they’re your family.

Shane Pruitt
National Next Gen Director
North American Mission Board

“Don’t let the gap between God’s word and our will become so wide that we fall.” Amy Hacker, from “Mind the gap” at the-scroll.com


From the Twitterverse

@ricklance

As we begin the Advent season, may we remember that Jesus is both our Source and our Resource. May we allow Him to flow through our lives like a river resourcing the lives of others — with the gospel and with ministry and discipleship.

@ValleydaleSBC

The season of Christmas isn’t about gifts and decorations and spending. It’s about the anticipation of the Son of God born to rescue us through His love. #christmas #hope

@tylereiland2414

“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?” —Greg McKeown

@LLBCAthens

Doubt doesn’t stop God. It stops us from experiencing the glory of God. —Andy John King

@ChurchAnswers

“Vulnerability can be used for either selfless or selfish reasons. Pastors and church leaders should express weakness to serve others rather than trying to garner sympathy.” —Sam Rainer

@LifewayResearch

“Jesus ‘knows if we’ve been bad or good,’ but by His grace, we are good for His sake — not goodness’ sake.” —Caroline Case

@CaskeyCtrNOBTS

“The good news is that if you have been born again, you are already on God’s team. The even better news is that God wants to use you as an impact player.”
—@newsomblake

@haines_matt

What impresses Jesus is not shallow religious belief, but sacrificial faith.

@Dawson_Church

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).

@NAMB_SBC

Is there anything better than celebrating lives changed by the gospel?