Alabama Legislation passes SB 46 to bring legal medical cannabis into the state

A Senate bill legalizing medical marijuana in Alabama, SB 46, now goes to the governor’s desk.

The law cleared its last hurdle in the state parliament on Thursday when it left the House of Representatives with 68 to 34 votes. The bill was passed by the Senate in February with a 21-10 vote.

The ball is now in Republican Governor Kay Ivey’s seat. An Ivey spokesman said the governor would review SB 46.

“We appreciate the legislature’s debate on the matter,” said the spokesman’s statement, as reported by the Montgomery Advertiser. “This is certainly an emotional problem. We are sensitive to this and will give it the care it deserves. “

For Alabama’s cannabis advocates, the moment was years in development. In 2019, the legislature passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana, which instead chose to set up a commission to examine the feasibility of the proposal.

The commission held public hearings at which the panel heard from supporters and opponents of the idea. By the end of 2019, the Commission recommended lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis and presented a draft of potential legislation. But the idea never came about last year and left the door open again for the 2021 session.

The commission was chaired by Republican Senator Tim Melson, who spearheaded Alabama’s efforts to get medical marijuana passed. It was Melson who introduced and sponsored the bill, which was passed by the Senate in February and in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The details of SB 46

The bill would establish a medical marijuana program in the state. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Melson’s legislation would “approve the use of medicinal cannabis for about a dozen conditions, including cancer, chronic pain, and depression; Sickle cell anemia; incurable diseases and HIV / AIDS, ”while patients“ would need a doctor’s license to use medical marijuana, which is only available in specialist pharmacies, and purchase a medical cannabis card that costs no more than $ 65 a year. “

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, SB 46 also prohibits “smoking, vaping or ingestion of cannabis in baked goods” and only allows “tablets, capsules, gelatins or vaporized oils”.

Melson said in January that the bill he introduced was the same one he offered in 2020.

“I have no plans to change it,” Melson said at the time. “I look forward to introducing it and seeing what happens.”

The bill split some of Melson’s Republican colleagues. GOP MP Mike Ball told CNN that the policy could change the perception some may have of Alabama.

“It could make a statement about our compassion. It could make a statement that we are not completely closed to everything, “said Ball.” Often times people are adjusted in their own way and it is just difficult to open your heart to something. … It just tells you that we are changing our minds about some things, it’s just a slow step. “

Another Republican state senator, Rich Wingo, told CNN that he voted against the legislation because of concerns about how it would be consumed and sold.

“They’re suggesting chewable gummy candy, I’d rather see it in a form that is the least appealing from a child’s point of view,” Wingo told CNN in an email. “My point is anything that is less attractive to a child, a child could possibly see these rubbers [sic] (left unattended) thinking it is candy or daily vitamins. “

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, SB 46 “requires all cannabis gums made to have a flavor.”

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