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Alabama House approves medical marijuana bill

MGN Online

Alabama is close to having a medical marijuana law. The Alabama House of Representatives voted 68-34 for the bill that would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase marijuana after getting a recommendation from a doctor.

Posted: May 6, 2021 2:53 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday approved medical marijuana legislation, a vote that came after a lengthy debate in which several Republican lawmakers described their evolution to support the measure.

Representatives voted 68-34 for the bill that would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase marijuana after getting a recommendation from a doctor. The bill now returns to the Alabama Senate for concurrence or to be sent to a conference committee.

The House approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill won the 2013 “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill that year in the House of Representatives. Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who handled the bill in the House, said “hearts and minds” have slowly been changed on the issue. Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator, said he too changed his mind on medical marijuana and became emotional at times as he discussed the passage of the bill.

“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now,” Ball said.

More than a dozen conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain would allow a person to qualify. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of Democratic Rep. Laura Hall, Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall. Hall first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son died of AIDS. Hall said that he couldn’t take AZT, which doctors prescribed for him.

Representatives debated the bill for nearly 10 hours Tuesday until lawmakers adjourned shortly before midnight without a vote. Representatives approved the bill Thursday after two hours of debate.

The lengthy debate brought impassioned discussion that included lawmakers expressing fervent opposition or how they changed their minds on the issue after the illnesses of family members.

“This can change the quality of life for the people that we love,” said Republican Rep. Allen Farley, a former police officer.

The bill faced a filibuster from opposed Republicans who worried that it could be a gateway to recreational use or that medical marijuana could end up in the hands of teens.

“What makes us think we know more than the FDA. My other thought is what if we’re wrong. What if we approve and pass this bill and it is a gateway like it has been for Colorado,” Republican Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa said Tuesday.

The Alabama Senate approved the bill by a 21-8 vote in February after 15 minutes of debate. However, the House of Representatives has traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and required the bill to go through two committees before coming to the floor.

A medical marijuana bill in 2013 won the Shroud Award for the “deadest bill in the House.

“They laughed at me,” former Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd, the sponsor of the 2013 bill said Thursday of the reaction she got from some Republicans then.

“I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue,” Todd said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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