Alabama Senate approves bill to legalize medical cannabis

Legal medical weed in Alabama will result in the establishment of a cannabis commission

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

At the end of April, a bill to legalize medical cannabis in Alabama was approved by the Senate committee. This was the second significant achievement for proponents of cannabis reform in the state during the span of just seven days. A week prior to the Senate committee vote, cannabis was decriminalized in Alabama. Then, on Thursday, May 9, the State Senate approved the medical cannabis bill with a 17-6 vote.

What does Alabama’s medical cannabis bill entail?

Alabama’s proposal to legalize medical cannabis in-state will permit patients aged 19 and above to qualify for medical cannabis as a treatment, so long as they have been diagnosed with one of the 33 qualifying conditions by a certified physician or healthcare provider.

Legalizing medical cannabis in Alabama under the new bill will also trigger the development of a commission that would be in charge of overseeing the licensing process for retailers, distributors, and cultivators. Moreover, the commission would be responsible for approving each individual patient’s medical cannabis card.

Examples of some qualifying conditions that a patient must be diagnosed with in order to receive medical cannabis as a treatment in Alabama include addiction, cancer, chronic pain, depression, and epilepsy.

Medical cannabis bill passes Alabama Senate committee with vote of 6-2, followed by 17-6 vote on Thursday

Back on Wednesday, April 24, Alabama’s medical cannabis bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 6-2 vote, with three refusals to vote. The bill then progressed to the full Senate, where it was approved on Thursday.

“We’re encouraged to see a compassionate medical cannabis bill advancing in Alabama,” said the director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, Karen O’Keefe, during an interview with Marijuana Moment. “Passing medical cannabis laws should be a no-brainer for elected officials,” she explained, adding that, “we’ve had 20 plus years to see that the laws alleviate suffering and are not causing problems. And there is perhaps no political issue that enjoys such strong popular support.”

Before the vote commenced, members of the committee listened to testimony from cannabis supporters and opponents. During this time, law enforcement officials, advocates, and doctors pondered over Alabama’s medical cannabis legislation.

We need to realize tobacco is four times more addictive than cannabis,” said a researcher named Jerzy Szaflaski who boasts experience testing cannabidiol (CBD). ” Alcohol is two times more addictive than cannabis. They’re both legalized and regulated.”

The chief sponsor of Alabama’s medical cannabis legislation, Sen. Tim Melson (R), recommended a substitute amendment that was eventually given the green light. Melson’s amendment would make it a requirement for patients to visit two separate doctors for a first and second opinion.

Only once the second opinion is obtained from a certified healthcare professional can the patient obtain a prescription. According to Melson, the amendment will prevent physicians and doctors from being bombarded with requests for medical cannabis prescriptions.