Medical marijuana debate continues for Alabama lawmakers
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama lawmakers are debating whether medical marijuana should be allowed in the state, and as we near the end of the legislative session we may have an answer soon.
This discussion has drawn a lot of controversy. Some believe SB 46 is absolutely necessary to help people with debilitating illnesses while others feel it’s a slippery slope. The bill’s House sponsor Representative Mike Ball said medical marijuana would only be for people with qualifying medical conditions, and could only be used through certain means such as oils or creams. The bill does not include smokeable or edible products.
Representative Ball said the journey of getting people medical marijuana is a long one that started back in 2013.
“What Carly’s Law did is it put $1 million a year in the state budget to study effects of CBD oil and then we followed up with Leni’s Law which decriminalized it and made it available for people to use,” Representative Ball said.
Meanwhile, Alabama Senator Sam Givhan said originally he had a problem with the reasons listed for people to get medical marijuana. He feels they were too broad. As for whether he will give his support now, Senator Givhan said that’s to be determined based on amendments.
“My problems were the amorphous pain, My hips hurt all the time, my shoulder hurts all the time, but I have one lady in my Sunday school and she’s in chronic pain. She needs help,” Senator Givhan said.
Last week the Alabama Democratic Party Announced their support for not only legalizing medical cannabis but also recreational use of the drug as well.
“First and foremost it has contributed a significant boom to various economies of states across the country in places like Colorado and others and we can gain hundreds of millions of dollars for our general fund,” said Representative Chris England who is also the chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.
Many lawmakers said they are confused why the party mentioned recreational use as this is not debated this legislative session.
“I don’t know why they are bringing this up,” Senator Givhan said. “This is a disservice to SB 46 because some of the house members who are opposed to it and senators will just use this as ammunition. I think it’s poor timing. Why would they bring it up now when recreational marijuana won’t pass?”
House minority leader Representative Anthony Daniels said it’s important to note only the medical marijuana bill is on the table.
“We are not pushing recreation to the side what we are saying is we want to make certain we don’t confuse the issues. They are separate and different. We want to treat them separately and differently,” Representative Daniels said. “Recreation hasn’t been introduced this session and it’s not in front of us. Medical is and that’s what we are working on.”
Representative Rex Reynolds said he is absolutely against recreational marijuana. As for the medical marijuana bill on the table, Representative Reynolds said that’s a tough decision.
“I was an absolute no in the beginning. I am still not totally on board, but I am watching the around 19 amendments,” Representative Reynolds said. “Based on my career it will be very difficult for me to vote yes on that bill.”
Representative Reynolds said he even plans to bring something up this week to combat the use of recreational marijuana.
“I should have an expansion of the implied consent law on Thursday and the reason for that we are having so many accidents involving the use of marijuana and this will allow police officers to test.” Representative Reynolds said. “It’s still a scheduled control drug on the federal level,”
This bill is now ready for its third reading on the house floor, according to lawmakers.
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