Medical cannabis just cleared a big hurdle in Alabama, drawing the state closer to approving its use for Alabamians with chronic conditions.
The state House OK’d a bill that has been the source of controversy. In a late night vote, the Senate also gave the bill its stamp of approval. Now, the bill will go to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk for signature.
“Passing the Compassion Act will allow seriously ill patients to finally get the relief they deserve. Alabama is one of only 14 states in the country that continues to criminalize the medical use of cannabis, and while this bill is more restrictive than is ideal, it is a dramatic improvement from the status quo and would improve the lives of thousands of Alabamians. We urge the Senate to swiftly concur with the modified bill, and Gov. Ivey to sign it into law,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.
It’s the farthest a medical cannabis bill has made it in Alabama. If approved, cannabis would be approved to treat more than a dozen conditions including: chronic pain, nausea and weight loss from cancer, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, depression, terminal illnesses and more.
Alabama’s overwhelmingly male-led Legislature removed PMS and menopause from the conditions list, which prompted criticism from Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove.
“I am so disappointed that we have an amendment that seeks to exclude women that are 51% of the population of this country, of this state, but not in this body,” Coleman said, adding that a male member of the house once explained to her what it was like to be pregnant.
Amendments to the bill limit the types of medical cannabis products to pills, gelatin cubes, lozenges, oils, suppositories and nebulizers. Smoking, vaporization, candies, and baked goods are not allowed.
Patients with a medical cannabis card and a doctor’s recommendation could get the products at licensed dispensaries. The law would allow up to 12 locations.