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Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission approves draft bill

Friday, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission voted to recommend legislation that would legalize marijuana for persons with diagnosed medical conditions.

The commission voted twelve in favor and three against. Three members abstained.

State Health Office Scott Harris voted against the bill.

The proposed bill would allow farmers to grow marijuana, doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain listed conditions, transporters to transport the product, dispensaries to sell the product, and would designate a state testing lab to perform the tests on the product sold on the state.

A new state agency, the Alabama Medical Cannabis agency would regulate cannabis in Alabama.

The commission would strictly regulate the product from planting to sell so that all product would be accounted for and limited to grown and produced within the state of Alabama.

A spokesman for the Alabama Farmer’s Federation told the Alabama Political Reporter that they have no position for or against medical marijuana; but if there is going to be cannabis sold in Alabama they want it to benefit Alabama farmers.

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The draft did not allow for a smokable products or for edible products such as marijuana gummies and brownies. There is no provision for the legalization of home gardeners to grow marijuana for their own use

Cannabis in a pill form would be allowed; but would be tightly regulated.

The Commission is chaired by State Senator Tim Melson, R-Florence. Melson is a physician who introduced medical marijuana legislation during the last legislative session.

That bill passed the state Senate; but ran into fierce opposition in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Senator Melson will introduce this bill, which was recommended by the Commission, in the 2020 Alabama legislative session.

Some marijuana advocates are arguing for a much broader legalization of cannabis in Alabama, including the legalization of recreational marijuana. They have also criticized the ban on edible marijuana products and smokable product as well as the ban on the sell of marijuana plant material. They have also questioned the legality of the ban on importing marijuana products into the state.

During the commission meetings, Melson said that he would join with Senators skeptical of his bill in fighting to defeat any effort to pass recreational marijuana.

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Some opponents of medical marijuana have told the Alabama Political Reporter that they oppose passage of medical marijuana; because it is an incremental step towards the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Whether or not the state passes a medical marijuana bill will be decided in the Alabama legislature next year.

State Representatives Mike Ball, R-Madison, and K. L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, have championed efforts to pass medical marijuana last year. Mike Ball’s compromise bill created the Alabama Medical Marijuana Study Commission (later renamed the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission) to recommend legislation for the upcoming session. It also extended Carly’s Law and Leni’s Law. That compromise bill passed both Houses of the legislature and was signed by the governor.

Former State Representative Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, introduced legislation for years to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana in the legislature; but her efforts were met with skepticism from legislators.

To read the report of the Commission, click here.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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