MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As the Alabama House of Representatives decides whether or not to approve a bill legalizing medical marijuana, the bill’s sponsor said there are more people in Alabama who support the measure, albeit behind closed doors.
Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, said that while a lot of organizations, including those in law enforcement, publicly say they are against the bill, in private they tell him otherwise. He did not disclose who had told him they were privately supporting the measure.
“I hate to say it, but it’s kind of like a lot of people who act one way in church and when they get out, they do other things,” Melson said. “So what you’re seeing is some of these individuals are calling me and saying ‘Publicly, we have to be against this, but privately, we need this.”
But despite the public reservations of some, Melson went on the say that he believes that there will be increased support from House members this time around.
“You’re gonna be surprised by some of the people who are going to vote for this,” Melson said.
Melson’s bill, which passed the Alabama Senate 21-8 in February, would regulate the production and use of medical marijuana. Doctors would be able to issue medical cannabis cards to patients suffering from a wide range of symptoms.
During a recent public hearing on the bill, advocates and opponents had one last chance to try and sway lawmakers.
“The misconception is that marijuana is not harmful, but it is,” Dr. Marsh Rulerson said. “It interferes with judgement, reaction time and coordination.”
“Why do we as a society deem it acceptable to prescribe anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, pain meds, opioids and truly addictive drugs in the name of health care, but we can’t allow something naturally beneficial for the body?” Melissa Mullins, a marijuana advocate, purported.
Melson said he’s cautiously optimistic he has the votes to pass the bill in the House, which has traditionally been more skeptical of marijuana legislation.
If approved by lawmakers, Alabama would become the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.