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Alabama Medical Marijuana Bill Moves Towards Floor Vote

April 14, 2021

The House Judiciary Committee in the state of Alabama approved 10 amendments to a bill that would allow access to cannabis products as treatment for therapeutic purposes. Sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R), the full Senate approved a different version of the bill last month, which would be voted upon again should the House choose to pass it. Should the bill clear both chambers, it would be sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. 

This latest proposal would establish an Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee licensing and implement regulations. 

Details of the Medical Marijuana Bill in Alabama 

To qualify for the medical marijuana program, Alabama patients would have to be diagnosed with at least one of 20 conditions including (but not limited to): “intractable” pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The maximum daily dosage allowance would be capped at 50 milligrams of THC. Qualifying patients could purchase and possess 70 daily dosages at any given time. 

A nine percent gross proceeds tax on medical marijuana sales would be implemented. Of that tax revenue, 15% would be kicked back into cannabis research (reduced from the original 30% under a new amendment). 

Advocates Raise Concerns Regarding Bill 

While advocates for cannabis reform have been encouraged by recent developments in Alabama, they have raised concerns about several aspects of the proposed legislation. For example, the bill prohibits raw cannabis, as well as consumption through smoking, vaping, candy or baked good products. Instead, patients would only be permitted to purchase capsules, oils, suppositories, lozenges, and topical patches. 

Traditionally, restrictive medical marijuana programs such as the one currently put forth in Alabama have been relatively unsuccessful compared to more expansive reform — as exemplified by the wavering medical program in states like Iowa. 

Even if the bill is passed, the medical program is likely not to take off in states such as Florida with less restrictive measures. Nevertheless, it could be a huge step forward in southern states making moves on cannabis reform. 

Contributed by Jack Berning