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Cannabis reform legislation fails in committee

By Beth Clayton

MONTGOMERY—Representative Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) presented a bill before the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee to dramatically change the way marijuana is treated under Alabama law. Todd’s bill, which failed due to lack of motion in committee, sought to allow possession, use and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older, as well as allow the state to regulate cultivation and levee a tax on its purchase.

Todd highlighted many of the benefits of safe, legal marijuana, including medicinal purposes for patients with cancer and AIDS, decreasing the number of felony convictions and incarcerations and increasing revenue and jobs for the state.

Representative David Colston (D-Hayneville) spoke out against the bill in committee. He expressed the concern that legalizing marijuana would open the door to legalization of other drugs in years to come.

“Twenty years from now or thirty years from now, after every state decides to legalize marijuana, there will be someone from California or some other state that says, ‘You know that cocaine? It really helps with my headaches.’ That was the same attitude on marijuana…years ago,” Colston said.

“Marijuana is a totally different drug than cocaine or meth,” Todd responded.

“Cocaine and meth are serious problems we have in our communities that lead to addiction and lead to poverty, incarceration and many other things. Marijuana is not in that classification,” Todd said.

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Todd reminded the committee that marijuana is already being grown and sold in Alabama with no generated tax revenue for the state.

Representative Allen Farley (D-McCalla) added to the testimony that his friend, who retired from law enforcement, changed his opinion on medicinal marijuana after his mother died.

Farley added that he doesn’t think we’re at the point in this State House for this type of legislation, but that our law enforcement community and our medical community should come together in a conference to “say the things that need to be said” to help move the issue forward.

“I applaud you for what you’re doing and what you have done,” Farley told Todd as the committee closed.

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