MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama has been filed in the state legislature.

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, is sponsoring SB165, also known as “The Compassion Act,” which is scheduled to be heard before the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee next Wednesday.

During the last session, Melson championed a medical marijuana bill, which went through the Senate but stalled in the House.  

During the off season, the Alabama medical cannabis group met to draft the bill, outlining the process for a person with a qualifying medical condition to get a medical cannabis card. The bill also sets up a commission to oversee, patient registry, licenses for growing and dispensing.

The bill also establishes a defense against prosecution for marijuana possession for those that qualify.

The Compassion Act would also allow physicians to recommend medicaid cannabis for up to 15 medical conditions.

Under existing law, first-degree unlawful possession of marijuana is a Class C felony that is punishable between one and 10 years in prison, while second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable up to a year in prison.

This bill would provide certain legal protections to employers, and would prevent an employee who uses medical cannabis from qualifying for workers’ compensation in certain circumstances.