The marijuana legalization movement has not been considered very favorably by the government. Still, one by one, the states in the US have started legalizing marijuana, at least for medical use. Many people wonder if pot is legal in Alabama and now, it is the latest state to do so. The Legislature of Alabama has overcome years of resistance. Finally, it has given the final passage to medical marijuana legislation. This is the result of emotional and long debates where key Republican lawmakers switched sides after they gave their reasons for the change.
The bill that legalized marijuana now allows people with qualifying medical conditions to buy medical marijuana. However, they need to have a doctor’s recommendation first. Alabama’s senate voted to accept House changes, then sent the legislation for the final approval to Governor Kay Ivey.
Is marijuana legal in Alabama?
After signing the bill, Governor Ivy called this “important first step.” She then praised the people who sponsored the bill. Now, whenever someone wonders, “Is medical marijuana legal in Alabama now?” the answer would be, yes. According to Governor Ivy, this is an emotional and sensitive issue – something that’s being continually studied. The state has a study group that has examined the issue closely.
Governor Ivy has an interest in the potential positive medical effects cannabis has for the most common chronic illnesses. She’s also interested in what medical cannabis can do to improve the quality of life of people living their final days. The state Senate of Alabama already approved the bill last February by a vote of 21-8 after spending 15 minutes of debate. The House of the state has been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals so it sent the bill through 2 committees before the final approval.
Legalization of marijuana in Alabama
Apart from being the latest state in the US to legalize marijuana, Alabama is also the 2nd one in the “Deep South” to take this step. Now, its residents don’t have to worry about when will medical marijuana be legal in Alabama. Governor Ivey gave her approval of a restrictive medical marijuana market nearly 2 weeks after the legislature of the state passed the landmark measure.
This law doesn’t just answer the question, “Is medical marijuana legal in Alabama?” Under this law, residents must follow the rules, especially those which allow business license applications, which will begin by September 1, 2022. Also, it’s important for residents to know that there are restrictions. For one, the prohibitions include vaping products, smoking flowers, baked goods, and candies. Also, the laws only allow low dosage limits. But the measure offers several licensing opportunities.
The passage of the Medical Marijuana bill in Alabama is a sign that elected officials throughout the country are finally getting the message – that medical cannabis has overwhelming public support. The next step will be very important as the state will now have to set up an effective and safe medical cannabis program.
2013’s deadliest bill
In 2013, a medical marijuana bill won the year’s “Shroud Award” for being the year’s “deadliest bill” in the House of Representatives. According to Republican Representative Mike Ball, “hearts and minds” were gradually changed on the issue, which paved the way for the legalization of marijuana in Alabama. Even Rep. Ball, who was once a state investigator and state trooper, changed his stance on medical marijuana.
According to Rep. Ball, each year that we delay getting help (in the form of medical marijuana) to the people who need it, the more they suffer. There is still more than a year before the program is completely set up, but at least now, there is hope. To qualify for the use of medical marijuana, a person must have a medical condition that requires its use.
Some examples of conditions include depression, cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, panic disorder, and terminal illnesses. The bill allows the use of marijuana in the form of skin patches, creams, and pills. Representatives also voted to name the bill after the son of a Democratic representative, Laura Hall, the one who introduced the medical marijuana bill over one decade ago after her son passed away due to AIDS.
Fears and opportunities
One of the members who voted against the Alabama marijuana legalization bill was Republican state Representative, Rich Wingo. In an interview, he said that he had issues with how to package and distribute medical marijuana. According to Rep. Wingo, forms of marijuana like gummies aren’t acceptable. He would prefer forms that aren’t appealing to children. Otherwise, children might end up taking the marijuana gummies thinking that these are vitamins or candies. The bill also has critics beyond the legislature from more than district attorneys in Alabama. In April, they wrote a letter to the Legislature to urge its members to turn down the bill. In the letter, they called marijuana, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Of course, the advocates of the bill are all for it as they lauded its passage. Melissa Mullins, the president of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition called the passage “a historic day” for Alabama. According to her, the state’s suffering, sick, vulnerable, and dying patients now have safer and alternative options in the form of cannabis products.
Those who wondered is marijuana legal in Alabama now think about how they can get their hands on it. The bill contains 16 categories of conditions and medical conditions for which someone would qualify for a medical marijuana card in the state. These conditions include depression, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, or any other condition that causes chronic pain where other treatments have proven ineffective.
The bill provides a definition of medical cannabis, and it excludes products that people can vape or smoke along with products infused with marijuana. Acceptable forms include gels, tablets, oils, patches, lozenges, or creams. Unlike many other medical marijuana legalization laws of the state, the bill doesn’t contain any specific employment protections for those who hold medical marijuana cards. Moreover, the law doesn’t allow the recreational use of marijuana. Alabama employers must make it a point to learn more about the law and determine whether they need to make any revisions to their alcohol and drug testing policies.