Thursday, April 23, 2015
From the Montgomery Advertiser: Medical marijuana bill still alive:
The [Alabama] Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved a bill that would authorize the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.
The bill, which passed on a 4 to 3 vote, would authorize the use of marijuana to treat at least 25 different conditions. Those using marijuana to treat health conditions would be required to carry an ID card and would face limits on how much they could purchase.
Advocates of medical marijuana have for years introduced measures to bring medical marijuana to the state, but the efforts have generally failed to move out of committee. The legislation will likely face long odds of passage in the full Senate. However, Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, the sponsor of the legislation, said it would give those suffering from illnesses an option. Many medical marijuana supporters attended Wednesday's meeting.
. . .
The bill was opposed by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, who said he had worked for a number of years with many children who had developed addiction issues.
"I recognize you're talking about prescription-based (marijuana)," he said. "I have seen too many messed-up lives and seen the devastation that drugs, beginning with marijuana, cause for me to never feel good about this bill."
. . .
Singleton was optimistic about the bill's odds if it made the floor of the Senate. However, he said he was leaning toward converting the legislation into a constitutional amendment, which requires more votes to pass the Legislature and would ultimately put the decision on medical marijuana before the voters of the state.
Under the bill, patients seeking marijuana to treat certain illnesses would have to submit to a medical evaluation that would include discussion of all possible treatments for their conditions. Conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana under the bill range from AIDS, cancer and Lou Gehrig's disease to migraines, fibromyalgia and severe nausea.
The legislation would set up three classes of recommendation for the use of marijuana. Class I recommendations would allow a patient or caregiver to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana each month. Class II recommendations would allow the purchase of at least 5 ounces of marijuana each month, while those listed in Class III could purchase up to 10 ounces of marijuana a month.
Those looking to use marijuana for treatment would have to apply for identification cards from county health departments, costing at least $100, though the fee could be reduced if the applicant participates in an education program. No ID card could be given without an evaluation from a physician declaring the patient has a serious medical condition where the use of marijuana for treatment would be "appropriate."
The legislation would also authorize the creation of nonprofit cooperatives for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Cooperatives would be required to pay for licensing. A 2.5 percent sales tax would be imposed on all medical marijuana sales.
"I'm not trying to be a new Colorado," Singleton said. "New money could made off this, but that's not my goal."
Ron Crumpton, a medical marijuana advocate who attended the hearing, said medical marijuana could be used to help veterans treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He also said the use of marijuana could help those with chronic ailments better cope with their symptoms.
"It helps you move on with it and live your life," he said.
The House Judiciary Committee approved a medical marijuana bill in 2010. The committee's action came very late in the session, and the bill never came to a vote in the full chamber.