By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, April 22, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act narrowly received a favorable report from a Senate committee.
Now the question is will the Rules Committee ever allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor. Powerful Rules Committee Chairman Senator J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner has said that he opposes the bill and would prevent it from getting to the Senate floor.
Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has said that he would like to see the issue debated on the Senate floor. The issue with controversial legislation in the Alabama Senate is that the rules make it very easy for a minority of Senators to filibuster anything that they oppose, which means the entire Senate shuts down until a super majority of Senators can cloture the debate and force an up or down vote. There are a set limit to the number of Senate working days. Blowing a day on something that will be filibustered indefinitely means other non-controversial bills will not pass this year. The Rules Committee prefers that Senators sign an agreement to cloture so they know they have the cloture votes before they let something on the calendar. Failure to get commitments to cloture in advance is reportedly also holding up the repeal common core bill, SB101.
There are some reports that Sen, Waggoner may have waivered in his stance.
On Tuesday, April 28, marijuana advocate Ron Crumpton wrote, “This morning, I am pleased to announce that SB-326, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act, will be debated in the Alabama Senate. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Waggoner has previously said that he would allow the bill to go to the Senate floor. However, this morning he told our sponsor, Senator Bobby Singleton, that he would allow the bill to move to floor for debate. We don’t know when at the moment, but I should have more information by the end of the day. From what I am hearing, he mentioned receiving “hundreds of phone calls and over 1000 emails,” to several people. Your efforts are paying off. Now we need everyone to call and email as many members of the Senate as possible. Below is a Senate roster complete with email addresses and phone numbers.”
On Saturday, the Alabama Safe Access Project, along with the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition will be holding a protest rally at the Vestavia City Hall at 1p.m. Vestavia is in Senator Jabo Waggoner’s home district. The organizers say that the people of Alabama support this issue and they support SB326, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act. Speakers will include Ron Crumpton, Chris Butts with more to be added.
SB326 is sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton.
Opponents of medical marijuana say that there are better pain killers available by prescription without the hallucinogenic affects and criticize marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Medical marijuana supporters say that lortabs, morphine, oxycotin, and even Sudafed can all be abused, some with worse side effects than marijuana. They also argue that marijuana has benefits that other alternatives lack, particularly for cancer patients.