Op-Ed: 23 Ala. district attorneys sign letter in opposition to medical marijuana legislation

Sponsor “very optimistic” medical marijuana bill will pass SC Senate, but why is this push...
Sponsor “very optimistic” medical marijuana bill will pass SC Senate, but why is this push different from all previous ones?(Adam Mintzer)
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:47 PM CDT
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Message to House members from DA Andy Hamlin:

Dear Members of the Alabama Legislature:

The attached letter was written on behalf of 23 elected district attorneys representing a significant population of our state. We are unified in our opposition to the proposed legislation that would open the door to a wealth of public health, safety and economic problems that would be difficult to reverse. It is our duty to raise these concerns, and we hope you will consider them carefully before casting any votes that could lead to the serious implications we have outlined here.

Also attached are two informative articles that contradict the current, popular narrative that the marijuana business and personal use is likewise harmless and a positive addition to communities.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our concerns. Please reach out to any of the district attorneys who have signed this letter if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.

This is the letter:

April 26, 2021

Dear House Member,

We write to you today, steadfast in our solidarity and opposition to the marijuana Bill that the legislature is considering.

For too long, we have seen the first-hand effects of marijuana on society. A gateway drug, it surely is, for we have seen too many juveniles and young adults find their way into the throes of a much more serious addiction because they first were enchanted by marijuana. Marijuana is a wolf in sheep’s clothing… too many in the general public have been convinced that it is harmless. That is, perhaps, the biggest lie that is being perpetrated on the Alabama public today. Please don’t further the lie by voting for any form of legalization beyond the pharmaceutical remedies already available under state law.

Study after study has demonstrated that every medicinal property that might be contained within the cannabis plant can be extracted. That said, there is no need to ingest plant marijuana or THC extract, in any form other than what is already being produced as a pharmaceutical. In fact, Marinol, a quite successful drug that aids cancer patients in regaining their appetite, has long been made from the cannabis plant and comes in pill form. Moreover, UAB is at the forefront of pioneering an extract that has shown great progress with the treatment of pediatric epileptic seizures. Again though, the medicine has been extracted from the plant, so there is no intoxicating effect nor any harmful consequence from the use of the drug.

Respectable science is resolute… Ingesting marijuana and/or high doses of THC and then suffering the effects of its intoxicants are harmful to the human body. Quoting a thorough article written by former New York Times reporter, Alex Berenson, " [a]fter an exhaustive review, the National Academy of Medicine found in 2017 that “cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”” Also, that “regular cannabis use is likely to increase the risk for developing social anxiety disorder.” We understand that as presently amended, the Bill does not allow for smoking marijuana… but we know the push to smoke will come. Stem the tide now. What’s more, edible THC does not diminish the neurological consequences of prolonged consumption. This legislation moves marijuana research out of the hands of respected scientists at institutions of higher learning and into the hands of convenience store clerks and profiteers. Those profiteers will not write a check that will pay for the long-term ramifications of this Bill.

Science contradicts the myths. And, though the myths are prolific about the benefits of marijuana, the advocates for legalization spread these myths because they fit well with their agenda. We have attached the above referenced article for your review, because the author cites studies from respected medical associations from all over the world. Time and again, those studies conclude that marijuana has dangerous consequences for the user and that the “myths” used to promote legalization are, often times, readily accepted as true, even though they are outright lies. To that point, he writes, " [e] ven cannabis advocates, like Rob Kampia, the co-founder of the Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledge that they have always viewed medical marijuana laws primarily as a way to protect recreational users.” Passing this Bill brings us one step closer to legalizing recreational marijuana in Alabama.

As to the issue of legislatively permitted marijuana use, states that long ago legalized marijuana in some form, are now consumed by it. Colorado, often heralded as the go-to example of what marijuana legalization can do, now has to reconcile its legalization with the industry’s true effect on the people… not just the economy. Also attached is a detailed article by left leaning POLITICO on how the marijuana industry is engaged in an all-out assault on the poor. Surely, we ought not allow the fox into the henhouse, all for the sake of raising revenue.

Please do not be deceived. Vote ‘no’ against any Bill that proposes to further legalize marijuana in any form. We respectfully insist.

Thank you, and with warmest personal regards, we are

Sincerely yours,

Walt Merrell, District Attorney, Covington County

Spence Walker, District Attorney, Choctaw, Clarke and Washington Counties

Ben Reeves, District Attorney, Barbour and Bullock Counties

Brian McVeigh, District Attorney, Calhoun and Cleburne Counties

Tom Anderson, District Attorney, Coffee and Pike Counties

Ashley Rich, District Attorney, Mobile County

Bill Adair, District Attorney, Walker County

Jody Willoughby, District Attorney, Etowah County

Jill Lee, District Attorney, Shelby County

Pat Jones, District Attorney, Henry and Houston Counties

Steve Billy, District Attorney, Escambia County

Rob Broussard, District Attorney, Madison County

Andy Hamlin, District Attorney, Fayette, Lamar and Pickens Counties

Scott Slatton, District Attorney, Marion and Winston Counties

Ken Davis, District Attorney, Russell County

Everette Johnson, District Attorney, Marshall County

Bob Wilters, District Attorney, Baldwin County

Lyle Harmon, District Attorney, St. Clair County

Bryce Graham, District Attorney, Colbert County

Wilson Blaylock, District Attorney, Cullman County

Errek Jett, District Attorney, Lawrence County

Scott Anderson, District Attorney, Morgan County

Pamela Casey, District Attorney, Blount County