MONTGOMERY, Ala. – After years of debate in the state legislature, Alabama is now the closest it has ever been to the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana.
The Medical Marijuana Bill, which was passed by both houses of the state legislature, is now in the hands of Governor Kay Ivey, who will consider whether or not to sign it into law this week.
“We will continue to review it and it helps some people, but you just don’t want it to get out of control, but I hope after thoroughly reviewing it, we can sign the bill,” said Governor Ivey.
“This is the way we can help some people, and quite frankly, I don’t care if I do anything else in this body,” said state Republican Rep. Mike Ball of Madison, who sponsored the bill in the House.
The bill was approved despite initially facing strong opposition from a group of house members who filibustered it. Meanwhile, a number of high level state officials, are now weighing in on the bill, and hoping to gain the Governor’s ear ahead of her decision.
“We’ve been very vocal in our opposition to this bill from the very beginning,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. “I think if you look at the totality of the circumstances in which someone is eligible to receive this, it’s far broader than the research suggests and obviously there’s a concern when you’re a law enforcement officer and something is illegal, that means it’s illegal. We think there is a complete inconsistency in how many states have dealt with this, not just Alabama and what it means to federal law.”
If signed into law, the bill would create a statewide regulatory system for medical cannabis, from cultivation to sale. Doctors would be able prescribe it for cancer, HIV and AIDS related conditions including chronic pain, nausea and weight loss. Other treatable ailments include PTSD, depression and epilepsy along with others listed in the bill.
“Having love in your heart, that was the driving force in this compassion act,” said Ball.
If signed into law by the governor, Ball said it would take about 18 months before anyone could get a medical marijuana card. Alabama would become the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana.