BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — On Thursday, the Alabama House passed a medical marijuana bill that would allow roughly a dozen qualifying medical conditions to purchase medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
The bill would allow marijuana in forms of pills, skin patches, and creams, but not in smoking or vaping products.
Alabama would become the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. Seven years in the making, the bill was backed by Rep. Mike Ball, a former investigator and now-Republican representing Madison County. Ball was an agent of the major crimes unit of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, also serving as a hostage negotiator. He retired from law enforcement after being elected to the legislature in 2002.
Ball said he got an email from someone advocating for medical marijuana, and he nearly deleted it. After reading it, doing his research, and looking for a reason to write off the suggestion, he said the data and compassion of the message swayed him.
“I’ve seen hearts and minds change more and more,” Ball said.
Ball heard stories from different people, such as Carly Chandler, whom many know from the 2014 bill, Carly’s Law, that legalized CBD oil as a treatment for seizures.
“If we can help suffering people, that’s what it’s all about,” said Dustin Chandler, Carly’s father. “To know the data is out there and shows that we can help, then that’s what we all need to be doing…”
Chandler is a former officer with the Pelham Police Department. After getting legislation passed for his daughter, he has continued to fight for other families that could benefit from legalized medical marijuana.
“Knowing that my daughter was put here for a reason; her struggles have always pushed me to try to get her help,” he said. “If my daughter can get help, why are we not providing that help for other people and showing compassion.”
The medical marijuana cards will cost $65 a year.
“It seems that throughout this whole process, every possible roadblock that could get thrown in our way would get out there, and we somehow managed to get by,” Ball said.
Those opposed to medical marijuana say it’s a gateway to recreational marijuana. Chandler and Ball said that is not their intent or something they support. They say it’s about helping people with serious medical conditions.