Panel advances marijuana bill for Alabama Senate floor vote

A medicinal marijuana bill has moved one step closer to a floor vote in the Alabama Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

Posted: Apr 24, 2019 4:58 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A medicinal marijuana bill has moved one step closer to a floor vote in the Alabama Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 for the bill after a brief public hearing Wednesday. It now moves to the full Senate where the proposal has previously met resistance. Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence acknowledged he has work to do to alleviate concerns about his bill before it goes to a floor vote.

The bill would set up state oversight, regulations and a process for prescribing marijuana to treat certain conditions. Patients with a valid medical cannabis card could not be charged with the crime of marijuana possession.

"This isn't Cheech and Chong smoking a bong. This is about treating patients and having tight control," Melson said.

Gena Dalton of Madison walked the halls of the Statehouse with her 6-year-old daughter Charlotte to ask lawmakers to support the bill. Charlotte has Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy. She had been debilitated by daily seizures and had to use a wheelchair, but improved greatly after being treated with cannabis oil, her mother said.

"She is walking and talking. She got to go to swimming. ... All of that would have been impossible," Dalton said.

Dalton said as Charlotte grows, she needs doses that are currently illegal under Alabama's marijuana law.

Opponents asked lawmakers to keep all marijuana illegal.

They argued marijuana's effects have not been adequately studied, particularly on children, and legalizing medical marijuana would send the wrong message to young people about the drug.

"This is the first step into recreational use," said Clay Hammac, who does narcotics enforcement for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. "We should have the bold conviction in saying this is a drug. I don't care what the industry is saying, the multi-billion dollar industry is saying. ... We need to be steadfast in our stance and say this is not a healthy alternative."

Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper, is sponsoring the bill in the House.

"The public gets it. That's not a problem. It's mostly political. It's fear in politics," Ball said. He also led the earlier push to allow cannabis oil.

"If five years ago, if somebody told me I'd be the marijuana guy, I would say nooooo," Ball said dragging out the word no. "But I'm an investigator. I followed the evidence and here I am."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96032

Reported Deaths: 2894
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7110159
DeSoto556559
Harrison385374
Jackson348670
Madison329788
Rankin329377
Lee271468
Forrest247872
Jones247579
Washington223872
Lafayette217339
Lauderdale2049125
Bolivar184066
Oktibbeha177850
Lamar170035
Lowndes156958
Neshoba1566104
Panola147129
Sunflower146546
Warren140550
Leflore140481
Pontotoc126616
Pike123451
Monroe122868
Copiah118433
Scott117427
Coahoma115528
Holmes109659
Marshall109517
Lincoln109053
Grenada108336
Yazoo105930
Simpson103346
Union99724
Tate98737
Leake95338
Adams93837
Wayne90021
Pearl River88353
Marion85935
Prentiss85517
Covington82022
Itawamba81521
Alcorn80311
George77113
Newton77024
Tallahatchie77021
Winston73819
Tishomingo68238
Chickasaw67924
Tippah66917
Attala65925
Walthall60026
Clay59218
Clarke58746
Hancock58222
Jasper57315
Noxubee54816
Smith53215
Calhoun51512
Tunica48615
Claiborne46316
Montgomery46120
Lawrence43313
Yalobusha43314
Perry42319
Humphreys37715
Greene37517
Quitman3735
Stone37112
Jefferson Davis34111
Webster33813
Amite32910
Carroll31612
Wilkinson30518
Kemper28915
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2263
Franklin1923
Choctaw1856
Issaquena1043
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19572348
Mobile13320292
Montgomery8811183
Tuscaloosa8586117
Madison782078
Shelby592349
Lee588759
Baldwin545650
Marshall393343
Calhoun349942
Etowah343945
Morgan327328
Houston280221
Elmore265947
DeKalb240620
St. Clair230835
Walker230683
Talladega214628
Limestone208820
Cullman189020
Dallas178326
Franklin176729
Autauga175725
Russell17573
Lauderdale169833
Colbert164126
Blount160815
Escambia160324
Chilton156431
Jackson156011
Covington138527
Dale135844
Coffee13206
Pike119410
Chambers116142
Tallapoosa115685
Clarke108916
Marion95729
Butler91639
Barbour8737
Winston73812
Marengo71620
Pickens65614
Lowndes65327
Bibb65210
Randolph64213
Hale63428
Lawrence61623
Geneva6074
Cherokee60313
Bullock59914
Monroe5848
Clay5797
Washington55613
Perry5416
Crenshaw53632
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry4935
Macon48119
Fayette4508
Sumter43519
Lamar3662
Cleburne3646
Choctaw34912
Greene30315
Coosa1683
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