BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama lawmakers are currently debating a medical marijuana bill in the Senate.
Senate Bill 165, also called “The Compassion Act”, lays out everything from how the product would be dispensed, who would be able to obtain a prescription and what type of products could be used.
A few of the qualifying medical conditions include anxiety or panic disorder, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, PTSD, Tourette’s syndrome, or cancer-related symptoms.
Elizabeth Wade says she takes medical marijuana for her anxiety and borderline personality disorder.
“It basically just means the emotions that I feel, I feel times 100,” Wade said.
She used to live in Alabama, where her doctor suggested its use. It wasn’t until she moved to Florida that she was able to try medicinal marijuana.
Wade says she tried taking different anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and other anti-depressants prescribed by her doctor but had several issues with each option.
“I have tried it all,” she said.
Wade says she spoke with her doctor in Florida, who sent her records to a medical marijuana doctor and the medical marijuana doctor went over the proper dose, how and when to use, and wrote her prescription.
“About six weeks later, my card came in the mail,” Wade says. “There’s actually a dispensary about a mile from my house, here in Tallahassee, so I just drive right over there, and show them my ID or card and they’ll fill my prescription.”
The current draft of SB-165 takes a similar approach that would require a person to get a medical marijuana card and pick up his/her prescription from a dispensary.
However, Wade takes her medication by smoking the flower or using oil with a vape pen. Smoking will not be an option in Alabama as laid out in the proposed bill.
Wade says she takes her medication around once a day in the evening when she is feeling her anxiety spike.
“The second I use my medical marijuana, I am brought straight back down to feeling great again,” she said. “It is absolutely wonderful. I have never used any type of medication that has been able to do this for me.”
Wade also says she prefers medical marijuana, because she doesn’t have to take it all the time, which is the case with most prescription pills.
She says she hopes her story reaches Alabama lawmakers to help them pass the law.
“There’s always going to be people who don’t agree, and that’s OK,” she said. “I can’t change everyone’s mind, but I’m just here to help put a voice to the people who really want to help get this passed.”
In the letter, Marshall expressed six concerns: addiction, treating opioid addiction with marijuana, long-term use, overstating benefits and downplaying risks, and ineffective regulation as well as mixing marijuana with prescription drugs.
Law enforcement has also expressed some concerns.
“Anything that is contributing to impaired driving is certainly a grave concern for law enforcement officers or public safety,” said Clay Hammac of the Shelby Co. Drug Task Force.
Addressing addiction concerns, Wade says she was more worried about addiction from frequently prescribed drugs like Lexapro and Xanax. When she would accidentally forget to take Lexapro, she says her family would immediately notice the side effects.
The Compassion Act is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence. It’s one of many medical marijuana bills that have been drafted since 2015.
UAB researched CBD oil and its uses in patients who suffer from epilepsy in 2018. Researchers found CBD oil reduced the number of seizures and the severity.
“The investigators point out that the oil used in the studies was a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil produced by Greenwich Biosciences, known as Epidiolex®. The purified oil contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychotropic component of cannabis,” a summary of the study reads.
Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski said the results of the study, “are not only statistically significant but also highly clinically significant for the group as a whole.”
Dr. Scott Harris, health officer for Alabama, opposes marijuana legalization because he’s concerned it could lead to recreational use.
“This is a drug that is different than other drugs, in that a lot of normal healthy people really want to access this drug, that is not true with your blood pressure and heart pills,” Harris said during an episode of “Capitol Journal” on Alabama Public Television.
Wade says she just wants people in Alabama to be able to get the help they need.
“You don’t have to be 100% for marijuana,” Wade said. “You don’t have to go out and do it yourself. Just remember, these are normal people, just like you and me, who are just wanting some kind of help from their diseases or conditions or pain or anything, that marijuana can really do for them.”
You can read SB-165 in its entirety below:
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