Yesterday, I met Representative Patricia Todd for lunch to discuss the 2014 legislative session and our efforts to reform marijuana policy in Alabama.
When we met at the end of the 2013 legislative session, we discussed nine possible pieces of legislation that takes a vertically integrated approach to the issue. I am pleased to announce that she has agreed to carry the complete package.
Vertical integrated legislation is when you take your ultimate goal and break it down into its individual components and then create a bill that would accomplish your ultimate goal as well as bills that would address each individual component of your ultimate goal.
If you look at the chart, you will see that the Alabama Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act, the Alabama Marijuana Freedom Act and the Alabama Industrial Hemp Act all come from the Alabama Marijuana and Hemp Reform Act. They are the individual sections of that bill that address the medical, recreational and industrial use of the cannabis plant.
The approach is also used with legislation that would decriminalize the use of marijuana. The Alabama Medical Marijuana Exemption Act, which with a physician's recommendation would render a patient immune to Alabama's personal use laws, and the Alabama Marijuana Decriminalization Act, which would make the possession of up to 1 once a civil citation instead of a criminal offense, combined together makeup the Alabama Marijuana Protection Act.
Representative Todd will also be filing the Alabama Physician Protection Act, which would protect doctors who discuss the possible benefits of marijuana with their patients, and the Alabama Medical Marijuana Affirmative Defense Act, which would allow a patient to argue a medical necessity defense in Alabama.
All of the legislation uses shared components. In other words, the physician protections in the Alabama Medical Marijuana and Hemp Reform Act are the same physician protections in the Alabama Physician Protection Act.
This allows us take steps toward our ultimate goal because they all lead back to the Alabama Marijuana and Hemp Reform Act.
With a package this size, there are many reasons why you would not want nine sequential bill numbers, so we will be filing the legislation in three groups.
The first group consists of the Alabama Marijuana and Hemp Reform Act, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act, the Alabama Marijuana Freedom Act and the Alabama Industrial Hemp Act. Those bills will be sent to Legislative Reference Service by the end of the day.
The second group will be the Alabama Marijuana Protection Act, the Alabama Marijuana Decriminalization Act, and the Alabama Medical Marijuana Exemption Act. These bills will be sent to Legislative Reference Service the Monday after Thanksgiving.
The final group will be the Alabama Physician Protection Act, and the Alabama Medical Marijuana Affirmative Defense Act. Those bills will be given to Legislative Reference Service on January 6, 2014.
In addition to the legislation addressing marijuana reform, Representative Todd has agreed to sponsor the Alabama Misdemeanor Sunset Act, which would cause a misdemeanor arrest to roll of your record after 5 years. Just like a speeding ticket.
Once we get the first group of bills filed we will announce the bill numbers and issue petitions for you to show the legislature your support for a sensible approach to marijuana policy in Alabama.