Alabama: Senate Committee Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

A medical marijuana bill was approved by a vote of 8 to 1 in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week in Alabama. Audience members cheered after the vote was announced.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Tim Melson (R), would allow people with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for 15 conditions (such as cancer and chronic pain) and purchase cannabis products at one of 34 licensed dispensaries, reports the Associated Press. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, gummy cubes, oils, skin patches, gels and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

“This bill is not about getting high. This bill is about getting well,” said Dr. Alan Shackelford, a Colorado doctor who described the success of using medical marijuana on people with seizures and cancer. The AP reports that Cristi Cain said her son Hardy’s debilitating seizures have been helped by CBD oil, now legal in Alabama, but said the higher doses that could help him more aren’t legal in the state. Hardy had as many as 100 seizures per day before trying the oil, and now has about 20 to 30, she said

“An area code shouldn’t affect one health’s care. If Hardy didn’t live in Alabama, he could be seizure-free. We shouldn’t have to be and don’t want to be medical refugees,” Cain said.

Another woman described how patches used in another state were the only thing that relieved her husband’s leg pain from Parkinson’s

The vote was a moment of optimism for medical marijuana advocates who for years made little headway in the conservative-leaning state. A medical marijuana bill in 2013 won the so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill that year in the House of Representatives. Melson said he is hopeful about the bill’s chances in 2020. He said there are multiple steps in the process of obtaining medical marijuana that should limit the danger of abuse.

“You are going to have to go to a physician. You are going to have to get a card. You are going to be on the (state) register,” Melson said. He defended the bill’s allowance of marijuana for a variety of conditions.

“I’m sure some people look at that 15 (conditions) and go, ‘Ýeah, really, that one?’ That’s because they don’t have it or don’t know the literature,” he said.

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