Senate Judiciary committee passes Alabama medical marijuana bill

Updated: Apr. 24, 2019 at 10:48 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Senate Judiciary committee approved a bill allowing people with certain conditions to use medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana.

It passed 6-2 with three lawmakers abstaining.

The bill creates the CARE Act. It allows people with certain medical conditions to receive a valid medical marijuana card in order to use medical marijuana.

These conditions include, but are not limited to, people with cancer, chronic pain, and autism.

According to the bill, a licensed physician, licensed physician assistant, and certified nurse practitioner would be allowed to diagnose someone with a condition making them eligible for a medical marijuana card. There was an amendment to the bill that would require someone to see two doctors, including a specialist, to receive a card.

It also creates the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission which sets up a patient registry system to issue the medical marijuana cards. The commission also provides licenses for the cultivation, processing, transportation, packaging and selling of cannabis.

Clay Hammac of the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force said he has safety concerns from a law enforcement’s perspective.

“We feel as though there is some social norming that has taken place with the use of marijuana and we want to be very clear the stance that law enforcement takes is that marijuana is not a safe drug,” Hammac said. “It is a drug and it’s highly addictive.”

Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski is a professor of neurology at UAB and supports legalizing medical marijuana. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This sentence has been updated to clarify Dr. Szaflarski supports legalizing medical marijuana, not “marijuana” as previously stated.]

He said cannabis products are less harmful than other products for the treatment of pain.

“Many patients have run out of options,” Szaflarski said.

Dr. Szaflarski said the state needs to regulate medical marijuana or else “There will be unauthorized use and recreational use.”

It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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