Alabama Re-attempts to Legalize Medical Marijuana in 2021- February 13, 2021
The United States is going through a wave of marijuana that peaked in 2020 and doesn’t seem to slow down in 2021 either. As the political landscape is getting more tolerant towards the green herb, the need for legalizing medical marijuana has taken another state under its wing.
Alabama, one of the few states where marijuana is completely illegal, comes forward with legislation to begin the marijuana revolution by proposing the legalization of medical marijuana. It’s the beginning of a new future that accepts the medical potential of marijuana.
Alabama’s Proposition to Legalize Medical Marijuana
Republican Senator, Tim Melson introduced the legislation (SB 46) that, if passed, would allow all qualified patients to buy, use and cultivate medical marijuana for their health conditions under strict regulations. It would also allow legal dispensing and transportation of the herb. This is a second attempt made by the Senator to propose medical marijuana legalization in the Senate.
A similar marijuana bill (SB 165) was introduced in the Senate back in March 2019. It succeeded to pass the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee by a majority with a 22-11 vote but could not reach the House for a vote because of the coronavirus pandemic. Had the pandemic not occurred last year, medical marijuana would have already been legal in the state of Alabama. The reintroduced act is an updated version of SB165 that is scheduled to convene on February 2, 2021.
Senator Melson hopes for the legalization to happen in 2021. The reintroduction of the legislation in the Senate is another attempt for reform to happen that could not cross the finish line last year.
There’s a high chance for the bill to pass in 2021. The added pressure comes from the legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi in the November 2020 elections. Since the neighboring state is ready to establish a medical marijuana program, it doesn’t seem like a pipe dream for Alabama too.
Why is it Important?
Unlike other states such as Mississippi, the state of Alabama cannot reform the marijuana laws in the state with a citizen initiative process. Though the citizens support the legalization, they cannot hope for a change unless the state government and legislators take the initiative.
Senator Melson’s effort will help bring the compassionate law to come into the state and allow patients with debilitating conditions to use marijuana for their health.
Strict Regulations for Legalizing Medical Marijuana
The bill reintroduced in the Senate proposes for medical marijuana legalization but under strict regulations only. A few of them are as follows:
- An 11 member Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission must be established to implement and administer the regulations and all licensing procedures.
- A medical patient can qualify for using medical marijuana only if they have one of the 20 medical conditions decided by the lawmakers.
- The only allowed method of consumption is capsules, lozenges, suppositories, oils and topicals (including transdermal patches).
- Physicians need to undergo a four hours education course and pass an exam to be able to recommend medical marijuana. They also need to have refresher classes every two years.
Not all provisions in the bill are fully accepted. For instance, the bill allows people to use medical marijuana for chronic pain only if the opioid treatment proves ineffective. Many believe that it’s a problematic clause as patients should not wait for their condition to degrade before using medical marijuana.
Regardless, the proposition is a positive step towards marijuana reforms. If Alabama passes the bill and legalizes medical marijuana, more patients within the state boundaries can benefit from the therapeutic properties of the herb possibly with a 420 card. Additionally, it’s good news for the state’s economy as well. The taxes and fees collected from medical marijuana sales would increase the annual revenue and also create more jobs for the people.