This Monday, January 28, AL.com will be moderating a marijuana law panel in Birmingham. The event will be an educational forum for policymakers to discuss Alabama’s marijuana laws. If you are interested in going, please RSVP as space is limited.
Here are the details for the forum:
What: Alabama marijuana law panel
When: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on January 28, 2019
Where: Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N, Birmingham, AL 35203
A report put out by two of the participants, Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, highlights the fiscal and social costs of prohibition. Enforcing these failed marijuana laws costs the state millions of dollars and needlessly harms thousands of Alabamans. Please write your legislators, asking them to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession. Then, share the action with your friends and family. Together we can bring sensible marijuana laws to Alabama.
The Alabama House Judiciary Committee will be considering a bill that would decriminalize less than one ounce of marijuana.
Currently, Alabamans caught with small amounts of marijuana can be sent to jail for up to one year. These bills, HB 272 and SB 251, would change the penalty for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana to a violation instead of a misdemeanor. That means the penalty would be paying a fine of up to $250 instead of facing jail time.
There is real momentum to pass this bipartisan bill this year. One of the sponsors, Rep. Patricia Todd, said, “I haven’t talked to one person who is against.”
If you are an Alabama resident, please ask your representatives and senators to support HB 272 and SB 251.
Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed into law SB 174, known as Carly’s Law. This law creates an affirmative defense for patients suffering from debilitating epileptic conditions — or their caregivers — for the possession and use of marijuana extracts that are high in CBD (a component of marijuana). It is a strong endorsement by Alabama lawmakers of the medical benefits of marijuana. Unfortunately, the law suffers from several fatal flaws, rendering it ineffective.
Unfortunately, by being limited to low-THC extracts and patients with epilepsy, SB 174 leaves the vast majority of patients behind. Even patients with epilepsy are extremely unlikely to get relief. Carly’s Law requires a “prescription” for the legal use of medical marijuana. Yet “prescribing” a federally illegal substance may jeopardize a doctor’s federal license. Meanwhile, a “recommendation” is protected under the First Amendment.
By merely providing an affirmative defense, the law won’t protect patients from being arrested and dragged into court. Finally, this law relies on the University of Alabama at Birmingham to implement the medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, based on what we have already experienced in other states, this university hospital-based approach is extremely unlikely to ever get off the ground.