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Alabama House delays vote on medical marijuana bill

MGN Online

The Alabama House of Representatives has delayed a vote on a medical marijuana bill.

Posted: May 5, 2021 9:30 AM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Legislation to authorize medical marijuana in Alabama stalled Tuesday in the state House of Representatives after Republican opponents used a filibuster to at least temporarily delay a vote.

Representatives adjourned shortly before midnight without a vote after nearly 10 hours of debate on the Senate-passed bill. The bill is expected to return to the House floor on Thursday.

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.

The bill would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase marijuana after getting a recommendation from a doctor. 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.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist, and handled in the House by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator.

“This can change the quality of life for the people that we love,” said Republican Rep. Allen Farley, a former police officer, describing how his 94-year-old mother at the end of her life entered a facility that treats people with dementia.

Republican Rep. Brett Easterbrook of Fruitdale said he is “as conservative as they get” but saw the positive impact medical marijuana had on his son.

“I watched it ... There is not one of you sitting in those chairs, if your child has a brain injury or cancer and this will help, you won’t give a damn what the Legislature says,” Easterbrook said.

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.

“Don’t ever doubt it, if the state of Alabama gets into the marijuana business, the cannabis business, it will change the very fabric of who we are as a state,” said Republican Rep. Jim Carnes of Vestavia Hills.

Other lawmakers expressed concern that marijuana has not gone through the Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs or that it could lead to traffic accidents.

“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,” said Republican Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa.

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 that year in the House of Representatives.

Representatives on Tuesday voted 69-31 to bring the bill up for a debate, an indicator that the bill could have enough support for final passage if it reaches a vote.

“I have no doubt it is going to pass if it is given a vote,” Melson said.

Melson, an anesthesiologist who now works in medical research, said he believes medical marijuana can provide relief to patients where other drugs have failed.

"It's the last choice to be used by a doctor so if there is an illness where everything else has failed, why not let them try it," Melson said.

Democratic Rep. Ralph Howard of Greensboro criticized the Republican filibuster against the bill. He described how his father struggled with the pain of cancer that had spread to his brain.

“Who am I to tell you how to treat a sick relative. A drug is a drug,” Howard said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497379

Reported Deaths: 9907
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34085530
DeSoto31806398
Hinds31796621
Jackson24303377
Rankin21852387
Lee15413233
Madison14513278
Jones13770241
Forrest13401250
Lauderdale11936314
Lowndes10908184
Lamar10461135
Pearl River9428237
Lafayette8450137
Hancock7690126
Washington7361156
Oktibbeha7110129
Monroe6713173
Warren6635175
Neshoba6606204
Pontotoc6603101
Panola6458131
Marshall6378132
Bolivar6264145
Union595194
Pike5780152
Alcorn5630100
Lincoln5416134
George490479
Scott470698
Tippah464981
Prentiss464181
Leflore4626143
Itawamba4590104
Adams4570119
Tate4539109
Copiah444691
Simpson4419116
Wayne438572
Yazoo437586
Covington427194
Sunflower4215104
Marion4206107
Coahoma4114104
Leake407287
Newton380879
Grenada3691108
Stone358264
Tishomingo355991
Attala330189
Jasper328065
Winston312891
Clay305875
Chickasaw296567
Clarke290294
Calhoun277645
Holmes266587
Smith262550
Yalobusha232347
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217663
Greene215448
Lawrence211140
Perry204555
Amite203454
Webster201645
Noxubee184940
Montgomery178956
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167338
Tunica158539
Benton147038
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131037
Humphreys128838
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104339
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 811551

Reported Deaths: 15101
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1138721885
Mobile720161315
Madison51829685
Shelby37203339
Baldwin37018538
Tuscaloosa34853599
Montgomery33879718
Lee23097239
Calhoun22095468
Morgan20584368
Etowah19727496
Marshall18224298
Houston17270405
St. Clair15884337
Cullman15257289
Limestone15177197
Elmore14944283
Lauderdale14060294
Talladega13653270
DeKalb12530258
Walker11055363
Blount10071174
Autauga9874146
Jackson9760177
Coffee9171188
Dale8850180
Colbert8768200
Tallapoosa7028194
Escambia6714127
Covington6661179
Chilton6571160
Russell623458
Franklin5926105
Chambers5553142
Marion4942126
Dallas4848199
Clarke472681
Pike4713105
Geneva4557126
Winston4456101
Lawrence4247116
Bibb421186
Barbour355274
Marengo333889
Monroe329062
Randolph324663
Butler323694
Pickens313479
Henry310365
Hale308586
Cherokee299257
Fayette289779
Washington250850
Cleburne245758
Crenshaw243075
Clay238867
Macon229862
Lamar214846
Conecuh185051
Coosa177338
Lowndes173061
Wilcox166738
Bullock151744
Perry137940
Sumter130738
Greene125344
Choctaw86527
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