Connect with us

House

Medical marijuana legislation to be introduced this week

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) told the Alabama Political Reporter that he anticipates introducing his medical marijuana legislation on Tuesday.

Melson said that he and the Alabama Legislative Services Agency were working on the final language in the bill. A key final sticking point is how businesses can deal with medical marijuana users in the workplace. Melson said that some business groups want employers to be able to fire anyone who uses marijuana even under the care and advice of a physician. There are also concerns as to whether or not an employee injured on the job with a medical marijuana prescription from their doctor should be allowed to receive workman’s compensation or not.

Melson thought that there should be some workplace protections for employees who take medical marijuana legally.

Melson’s bill is based on a draft that was approved by the Alabama Medicial Cannabis Study Commission which from August to December to study the issue of medical marijuana. Melson chaired that commission.

The bill would not allow for recreational marijuana. It is strictly limited to people with a diagnosed medical need, who have it prescribed by a healthcare provider.

The bill would allow farmers to obtain a medical marijuana growing license. There would be no farm to consumer sales and no legalization of home grown for personal use. The state would also license processors, transporters, and dispensaries. There would be strict control of inventory from the farm to the consumer. The medical marijuana would be taxed and the taxes used to fund a Medical Marijuana Commission which would regulate the cannabis industry in the state.

Opponent argue that medical marijuana is not legal under federal law and that medical marijuana eventually leads to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Senator Melson counters with the warning that if the state does not act and the federal government does then the state could face the same situation that it did with hemp. There the federal government legalized industrial hemp in the Farm Bill. Suddenly cannabidiol was legal and stores popped up all over the state selling CBD was being sold to stores with no regulation, licensing, and no input from the healthcare community. Melson supports de-scheduling marijuana at the federal level; but warned that the state needs to put medical cannabis regulations in place for that eventuality.

Public Service Announcement


Melson is a career anesthesiologist.

Melson said that he was confident that the bill, like last year’s bill, would pass the Senate; but was worried that it could get bogged down in committee in the Alabama House of Representatives.

State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) carried the bill in the House last year; but while he is still passionate about the issue, is not sure that he will carry the bill in the House this year.

“My focus is on ethics this year,” Ball told APR.

Ball said that his bill would improve on the ethics law that the state legislature has been working under since 2010.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

Advertisement

House

Senate pro tem requests general fund committee begin hearings in July

Staff

Published

on

By

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, announced today that he has asked Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Range, to begin holding General Fund Committee meetings in preparation for the next session.

In an effort to be better prepared because of uncertainty in state revenue as a result of COVID-19 pandemic Senator Albritton has agreed with Senator Marsh and has invited Legislative Services, the Department of Finance, Pardons and Paroles, Corrections and the Personnel Department to provide updates to the committee.

“Typically, we begin this process closer to sessions however because of uncertainty about state income and possibility of special sessions, we felt like it was important to get started much earlier than usual in this process,” Senator Albritton said. “The Legislature has done an excellent job managing our budgets over the past few years. So much so that Alabama was able to weather the storm of the COVID-19 shutdown this year with little impact to our vital state services. We understand that we will not have final revenue projections until after July 15th, but we must continue to do our due diligence and ensure that we use taxpayer money sensibly.”

“We want to make sure that all public money is being used wisely, now and in the future,” Senator Marsh said. “We have many pressing issues facing the state such as a potential $2 billion-dollar prison reform proposal and a stunning lack of rural broadband investment which need to be addressed whenever the Legislature is back in session and it is our duty to make sure we are prepared and kept up to speed on these matters. Furthermore, the taxpayers deserve a clear and transparent view of how their money is being used.”

The hearings are scheduled to begin July 9 in the Alabama State House.

 

Public Service Announcement


Continue Reading

Governor

Part-time employee in lieutenant governor’s office tests positive for COVID-19

Staff

Published

on

By

A part-time employee in Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth’s office, who the office said works only a handful of hours each week, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a press statement.

The employee, whose work area is separated from the rest of the staff, last worked in the office on the morning of Thursday, June 18.

All members of the office staff have been tested or are in the process of being tested for COVID-19 in response, and, thus far, no additional positive results have been reported.

In addition, the State House suite has been thoroughly cleaned and will remain closed until all employees’ test results have been returned.

Employees are working remotely from home, and phones are being answered in order to continue providing services to the citizens who need them.

 

Public Service Announcement


Continue Reading

House

Three workers at ADOC headquarters among latest to test positive for COVID-19

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

Sixteen more Alabama Department of Corrections employees, including three at the department’s headquarters in Montgomery, have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The department’s latest update, released Monday evening, puts the total of confirmed cases among employees at 99, with 73 cases still active. 

Five more inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 as well, including inmates at the Donaldson Correctional Facility, the Easterling Correctional Facility, the Kilby Correctional Facility, the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and the St. Clair Correctional Facility.

18 of 27 confirmed cases among inmates remained active as of Monday, according to ADOC. 

Of the department’s 28 facilities, there have been confirmed COVID-19 cases among staff or inmates in 21. Of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates, 214 had been tested as of Friday. 

Areas inside numerous state prisons are under quarantine, with ADOC staff either limiting inmate movements to those areas or checking for symptoms regularly and conducting twice daily temperature checks, according to the department.

Public Service Announcement


Continue Reading

House

Still work to be done on an Alabama gambling deal

Josh Moon

Published

on

A grand deal on gambling is possible in Alabama, but there’s still a long way to go. 

That was essentially the message that representatives from the Poarch Creek Indians and owners of non-Indian casinos around the state gave Friday to Gov. Kay Ivey’s Study Group on Gambling Policy. The 12-member group heard presentations, via Zoom, from representatives from all the tracks and casinos in the state, as it continues in its quest to put together a proposal that Ivey and state lawmakers can use to hopefully craft future gambling legislation. 

To move forward with almost any legislation will require an agreement of some sort between PCI, Lewis Benefield, who operates VictoryLand and the Birmingham Race Course, and Nat Winn, the CEO of GreeneTrack. The owners of smaller electronic bingo halls in Greene and Lowndes Counties will also have some input. 

The tug of war between these various entities has, over the last several years, prevented an expansion of gambling. It also has left the state in a weird situation in which casinos are operating on a daily basis but there are numerous legal questions and the state is making very little in the way of tax dollars from any of them. 

But with public support for lotteries, sportsbooks and even full casino gambling at all-time highs (even a majority of Republican voters surveyed said they support full casinos in the state), and with neighboring states rapidly expanding offerings, state lawmakers seem ready to push through legislation to make it happen. 

And now, it seems, the two sides in this fight — PCI and the track owners — are ready to make a deal. 

“I feel like there’s a plan out there that would benefit all of us,” said Benefield, who is the son-in-law of Milton McGregor, who passed away in 2018. “I’d like to see us put together something that gets these customers back from surrounding states. I just really feel like we can work together.”

Public Service Announcement


Benefield wasn’t alone in those feelings. 

“We stand ready to sit down and talk (about a grand deal) with anyone,” said Arthur Mothershed, who, as vice president of business development for PCI, handled the tribe’s presentation on Friday. 

Mothershed and Benefield have each said previously, and APR has reported, that the tribe and the non-Indian entities have held several discussions over the last few months in a quest to work out a deal. 

There is a new, old player involved, however. 

Former Gov. Jim Folsom, now a lobbyist, represented several Greene County electronic bingo entities, including GreeneTrack, during the conference. Folsom and others representing the bingo casinos told the group that bingo is essentially the financial lifeblood for their county, and that without it multiple county services could go unfunded. 

Ivey’s study group has met four times with the goal of providing state lawmakers with clear answers on questions of revenue, risks and options for gaming types. Any legislation approved by lawmakers would have to be approved by voters.

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook