After years of resistance, the Alabama legislature has finally passed legislation to legalize medical cannabis—the only obstacle now is approval from the governor. Having passed in the House and in the Senate, the bill now requires a signature from the governor to be put into effect across the state of Alabama.
Under the bill, patients suffering from such conditions as cancer, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder, chronic pain or a terminal illness would be eligible to receive medical cannabis in the form of pills, skin patches, and creams. Smoking and vaping cannabis products would remain illegal if the bill is signed into law.
The bill passed the House of Representatives, with 68 votes in favor and 34 against. On Thursday, the state Senate voted in favor of the changes to the bill introduced by the House.
While Governor Kay Ivey has not yet taken a public stance on medical cannabis, spokesperson Gina Maiola said that she would review the medical cannabis bill.
“We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves,” Maiola said in a statement on Thursday.
Medical Marijuana Bill 8 Years in the Making for Alabama
Last week’s vote on the medical marijuana bill occurred 8 years after the medical marijuana bill was first introduced in Alabama’s legislature. Having first been introduced in 2013, the legislative bill won the “Shroud Award” for the “deadliest bill” introduced in a legislative body in the United States. The Senate had previously approved the bill in February with 21 votes in favor and 8 against; however, the bill was then sent to the House, where it was looked through by two different committees.
“They laughed at me,” said former Democratic state representative Patricia Todd when speaking on the reaction from some Republicans when she introduced the bill eight years ago.
Stiff Resistance During Discussions, Followed by Swift Votes
8 years on after being first introduced, opponents of medical cannabis still put up a tough resistance before giving in.
On Tuesday’s hearing, representatives debated for over 10 hours, before ending discussions before midnight without holding a vote. This was followed by the House voting on the bill on Wednesday after 2 hours of debate, before being passed to the Senate.
On the passing of the bill, Patricia Todd said: “I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue.”
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