SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — Dozens of states have legalized recreational marijuana or decriminalized recreational marijuana possession in small amounts.
This is still not the case in the state of Alabama.
Local marijuana advocacy groups are asking state lawmakers during the 2023 legislative session for improvements to its non-violent cannabis convictions.
Advocates, like the Alabama Cannabis Coalition, are looking for what other states are doing while legalizing medical cannabis for use and are pushing lawmakers to make a change on how people are being arrested for marijuana possession.
“Decriminalization eliminates jail time for petty crimes for so many people and those crimes,” Founder and President of ACC S. Marty Schelper said. “Those misdemeanors and those felonies can actually prevent those people from getting jobs and having housing.”
Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, is sponsoring marijuana decriminalization legislation for the fourth consecutive year. The legislation has previously passed Senate judiciary committee review, but died on the Senate floor.
Schelper and other advocates are calling for the legislature to pass legislation to expunge criminal records for marijuana possession while looking at racial disparities in arrest rates before moving forward with establishing medical cannabis dispensaries.
John Deitz is with Mountaintop Dispensaries in Scottsboro, a licensed hemp grower and processor that supplies for medical purposes only. He said that he believes the legislature should pass legislation to expunge criminal records for marijuana possession if the state wants medical cannabis to thrive the way that it should.
“We would like to see home grow allowed also, and we would also like to see caregivers’ provisions listed inside of the medical side because every other state has it,” Dietz said.
The Alabama Cannabis Coalition plans to hold a rally on April 22 at the state capitol to push the legislation.