Medical marijuana bill stalls in Ala. House after 9 hours of debate

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 12:39 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A medical marijuana bill stalled in the Alabama House chamber Tuesday after several Republicans organized a filibuster. However, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, said he expects there will be a vote on the floor Thursday.

The chamber debated the bill for about nine hours but lawmakers were required to stop debate for the legislative day at midnight.

The bill would make marijuana legal medical treatment for about 10 different medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, autism and epilepsy.

“I’ve seen enough suffering for 10 lifetimes, and this is a way we can help some people,” said Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, who passionately urged state lawmakers to support the proposal. He handled the proposal in the House.

Several Republicans and Democrats shared personal testimonies about how medical marijuana has helped or could have helped someone they know.

“I can’t understand how people can come down here and basically tell folks how to treat their dying loved ones,” said Rep. Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro. “Who am I to tell you how to treat a sick relative?”

The bill requires a doctor to sign off that the patient has a condition that qualifies under the law.

Patients would be required to hold a special card saying they are clear to use marijuana for medical purposes. That card could cost as much as $65.

But many Republicans filibustered the medical marijuana bill until almost midnight Tuesday.

“I’m scared to death for this,” said Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road. “And I just want to make sure it will not be a gateway.”

Several lawmakers were concerned about the lack of Food and Drug Administration approval for medical marijuana.

“I urge everyone to be very, very careful on everything that we do today,” said Rep. Jim Carns, R-Birmingham.

Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, acknowledged that she believes there is a need for some people to use medical marijuana. At the same time, she still shared her concerns.

“I think every member in this body has compassion,” Shaver said. “We cannot hide from the fact that this plant has a bad side to it.”

The Senate had already passed a previous version of the bill.

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