Itâ€™s no secret that the Alabama Legislature has had a very productive past few weeks. Among the accomplishments of this legislative session is governor Iveyâ€™s signing of SB 236, a bill renewing Carlyâ€™s law, establishing a new medical marijuana research commission, and making cannabidiol (CBD) oil available for children with seizures.
While everyone can agree that SB 236 is a step in the right direction, it also represents a lot of work left to be done. This is because the bill signed into law Monday represents a compromised form of the vision initially proposed by Sen. Tim Melson and others.
Under the original bill, Alabama would have become the 34th state to adopt medical marijuana. Doctors could have prescribed the use of cannabis to treat symptoms associated with about a dozen medical conditions, ranging from degenerative neurological and muscle disorders to opioid addiction, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. Instead, we have what we now have is a diluted version that, had it not been met with fear and resistance in both chambers, would have helped even more people.
I can give over 45,000 reasons for supporting Sen. Melsonâ€™s original bill to legalize medical marijuana. They are the hardworking men and women of the 3rd District who, on Nov. 6, 2018, entrusted me to fight for their rights and liberties in Montgomery. As I knocked over 11,000 doors throughout Colbert, Lauderdale, and Lawrence Counties, this issue was probably the second most commonly brought up by voters. Even after my election, countless people across our state suffering from chronic pain, seizures, cancer, and other illnesses have told me how much medical marijuana would help them and their families.
I have never backed down in my support for liberty. This conviction influences every decision I make, both in the legislature and elsewhere. I believe in the freedom of each individual to make medical decisions that best suit them and their loved ones, which is why I stand both against government-run healthcare and for medical marijuana.
Defending freedoms like these is not simply a matter of preserving the principles enshrined in the Constitution, however; it is also the right thing to do. The opportunity to do what is both just and compassionate arises more often than many in the world of politics recognize, but we must be willing to give liberty a try.
Despite this, I will never forget the doomsday predictions I heard this session in the Alabama Legislature. Many would have had us believe that, even with something as simple as the legalization of medical marijuana, society would have unraveled at the seams, with a young person smoking pot on every street corner and in every school building.
This, of course, is an egregious misrepresentation of what the original bill sought to accomplish. Sen. Melsonâ€™s bill would have required two separate physicians (including a specialist in the condition being treated) to sign off on a prescription for cannabis before a patient could receive it. This could have only been done following a rigorous physical examination, during which a recommendation could have been made. Furthermore, doctors prescribing medical cannabis would have been required to receive 10 hours of continuing education in cannabis treatment every year.
I am glad to see the legislature and the Governorâ€™s office working together to enact legislation that will ultimately help the people of our state. If there is one thing a majority of legislators can agree upon, itâ€™s that marijuana needs more research. When Alabama passed Carlyâ€™s law in 2014, a study was done by UAB returning a positive report on the medical benefits of cannabis. I am confident that the continuation of this research will find even more reasons to make medical marijuana a reality for the Yellowhammer State.
Republican Rep. Andrew Sorrell represents District 3 voters in Colbert, Lauderdale, and Lawrence counties.