‘You’ll be surprised’ by medical marijuana bill’s support, lawmaker says
A medical marijuana bill moves to the House but its prospects are still unknown.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - House lawmakers are expected to take up a medical marijuana bill in two committees after the bill swiftly made its way through the Alabama Senate Wednesday.
The bill would allow people with qualifying medical conditions to receive a medical cannabis card authorizing them to use medical marijuana.
Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon said the bill would be placed in the House Judicial Committee and the House Health committee. It’s uncommon for bills to be placed in two separate committees.
He did not show any signs of rushing the bill through like in the Senate. The bill passed in a Senate committee within a few minutes and passed the Senate floor in less than 20 minutes.
The Alabama Senate passed the bill 21-10 Wednesday. The bill had passed the Senate twice before Wednesday’s vote.
“We’re going to go through it page by page and talk to the members,” McCutcheon said. “We’re going to let it work the process the way it normally does.”
McCutcheon said lawmakers still have many questions about the bill.
“Is this just a stepping stone to have to legalize marijuana in the state?” he asked. “That’s a huge question. I know, in some ways, we can’t answer that question. But we can look at the bill and make sure that it’s tight enough to where that it deals only with the medical treatment part of the of using the drug itself.”
House lawmakers also have questions about the illnesses medical marijuana can be used for. Here is the list of qualifying conditions:
|Anxiety or panic disorder||Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD||Cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain||HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss|
|Crohn’s Disease||Epilepsy or a condition causing seizures||Fibromyalgia||Sickle Cell Anemia|
|Menopause or premenstrual syndrome||Persistent nausea||Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)||Tourette’s Syndrome|
|Spasticity associated with a motor neuron||Spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis||A terminal illness||A condition causing chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention has proved ineffective.|
For chronic pain, a person could only receive medical marijuana if the conventional therapeutic intervention has proved ineffective.
Bill sponsor Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, said people would be surprised by some of the House lawmakers who have decided to vote in favor of the proposal.
“Because they have had that family member that needs it, or they realize they have a friend or neighbor who needs it,” Melson said.
Democratic Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said it’s difficult to tell what the prospects are of House lawmakers getting on board with the proposal. He personally thinks it’s time lawmakers make it available to people.
“Anything that a family in Alabama determines is good for their children or themselves, and they can do it safely, then we shouldn’t stand in the way,” England said. “I think we just need to embrace it rather than continue to fight it.”
The bill would establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to provide certification of patients authorized to use medical marijuana. The commission would also regulate the cultivation, processing, transporting, testing, and dispensing of medical marijuana. Registered physicians with the commission would be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana.
Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, has consistently voted against the medical marijuana bill.
“We have a process for products, for drugs, for medications to be approved, and we’re bypassing that entire process,” Stutts said. “We also have a tried and true process for dispensing medication where we go through pharmacies, and physicians write prescriptions, and the pharmacist fills it, and we’re totally bypassing that tried and true system.”
McCutcheon said there is a good possibility the bill could be in committee next week.
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