The Alabama State Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana after spending only about 15 minutes debating the measure. The SB46 bill was passed with 21 votes to 10. The law must also be passed by the Alabama House of Representatives and signed by Republican Governor Kay Ivey to become law.
As part of the measure, doctors could recommend cannabis to patients with any of more than a dozen serious medical conditions, including seizures. Spasticity associated with certain diseases or spinal cord injuries; Anxiety or panic disorder; and incurable diseases. Qualified patients with a doctor’s recommendation would receive medical marijuana identification from the state.
The law would also set up a state medical cannabis commission tasked with licensing the cultivation, processing, distribution, transport, laboratory testing and dispensing of medical marijuana. The Commission would also maintain a seed sales tracking system to oversee the production, distribution and sale of regulated cannabis products.
Smoking weed is not allowed
The medical marijuana products approved by the measure are strictly controlled. Oral tablets and tinctures, topical agents, transdermal patches, rubber cubes, lozenges, liquids for inhalers and suppositories are expressly permitted. Herbal or smokable forms of cannabis and foods such as baked goods and sweets are not permitted by law.
The Compassion Act, also called SB46, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Tim Melson, a Republican who is also a medical researcher and anesthetist. He believes existing evidence supports giving Alabama residents the right to choose medical marijuana products, especially when more traditional treatments have not been successful.
“I was skeptical five years ago,” said Melson. “I started listening to patients rather than prejudiced people, and here we are today.”
The passage of the Compassionate Act on Wednesday marks the third time the Senate has passed laws legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis. The law, also passed in March 2020 and also introduced by Melson, is essentially the same as this year’s measure.
Opposition expected at the Alabama House
Despite the repeated success of bills legalizing medical marijuana in the Alabama Senate, members of the state’s House of Representatives have not approved the measures. But Melson believes things could be different this time around, even with expected opposition. Polls show medical marijuana is strongly supported in Alabama, and the personal experiences of some lawmakers can help change people’s minds.
“You had the family member who needed it,” Melson said. “Or they realize they have a friend or neighbor who needs it.”
Although the bill prevailed in the Senate, the vote was not unanimous. Another doctor in the body, Republican Senator Larry Stutts, voted against the Compassionate Act. He said cannabis products should not be considered “medicinal”.
“First, there is no such thing as medical marijuana. It’s just marijuana, ”said Stutts. “From a medical point of view, it’s just marijuana. And we have a process for products, for drugs, for drug approval, and we bypass that entire process. “
Stutts added that the list of qualifying conditions, which include diseases such as chronic pain and insomnia, is too broad and general.
“Anyone who wanted marijuana could get a cannabis card and qualify for and get one of these conditions,” he said. “So it’s kind of a back door to say that we’re going to increase the availability of marijuana.”
But Melson said that was not the intent of the bill.
“I’m not a recreational marijuana person,” Melson said. “I don’t want that in this state. I just want the patients who need it to have it. “