Medical marijuana bill faces multiple hurdles in Ala. House

Published 6:04 am Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Alabama House of Representatives began a lengthy review of medical marijuana legislation on Wednesday, requiring the bill to go through two committees before it can secure a vote by the full House.

The Alabama Senate approved the bill by a 21-8 vote last month after 15 minutes of debate. However, the House of Representatives has traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and will require the bill to go through two committees. The House Judiciary Committee will vote next week after holding a Wednesday public hearing. If approved, it will then move to the House Health Committee.

The bill by Republican Sen. Tim Melson would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase marijuana after getting a recommendation from a doctor.

“I’m still optimistic. I just think people realize that there are people out there who have nothing else to try,” Melson said.
Under the proposal, people could get a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana for more than a dozen types of conditions — including cancer, anxiety, epilepsy, menopause, a terminal illness and chronic pain. The bill would allow marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

During the public hearing, speakers gave committee members divergent views on whether marijuana should be a treatment for medical conditions.

Dr. Marsha Raulerson, a pediatrician, said state medical marijuana laws bypass the normal approval process for medications which must be cleared for federal regulators. She said that process is there for the protection of patients.

“It can approve the people’s quality of life,” said Amanda Taylor, who told committee members that she suffers from six debilitating diseases, including diabetes and multiple sclerosis. “It’s inhumane to allow 36 states to say yes and then for Alabamians to be refused and denied,” Taylor said.