Alabama Bill Seeks To Extend And Expand Medical Cannabis Laws

Medical cannabis bill - Alabama
Image: Matthew Brodeur

A medical cannabis bill introduced in Alabama would see more patients in the state being able to benefit.

HB 243 would create the CARE Act and extend Carly’s Law, which expires on July 1 this year, to January 1, 2021. Carly’s Law enables research on cannabidiol (CBD) and provides a legal defense against unlawful possession of marijuana under the research program carried out by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Carly’s Law was signed by then-Alabama Gov. Bentley in 2014. It was named after Carly Chandler, a young girl with a rare genetic disorder that caused her to have multiple seizures daily, and who benefited from the use of cannabis oil.

HB 243 also provides clarifications to “Leni’s Law”, which gives epilepsy sufferers and other qualifying patients an affirmative defense in relation to possessing cannabidiol – and will then repeal the law next year.

“This bill would revise Leni’s Law to make conforming changes to the substantive provisions of5the law, and repeal the law November 1, 2020.”

In Alabama, eligible conditions for the use of cannabidiol include:

  • cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • severe or chronic pain
  • severe nausea
  • seizures
  • any other severe condition resistant to treatment by conventional medication.

Under HB243, not only will cannabidiol (which can be extracted from industrial hemp) be covered, but also medical marijuana generally.

The bill will establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission , which would set up and administer a patient registry system, issue medical cannabis cards and licenses for activities including cultivation, processing and packaging cannabis.

Helping to fund all this will be the implementation of  sales and use taxes

Champion of the bill is Rep. Mike Ball and there are twenty co-sponsors. Rep. Ball said the fears of political risk should be set aside.

“Fear is one of our biggest enemies,” he said. “We don’t need to let fear stop us from helping people. It’s a shame it has taken this long to unlock what this can do medically.”

Further detail on HB243 can be found here.

A poll being run on AL.com noted 98% support for legalising medical cannabis in Alabama (at the time of writing). Previous attempts to more broadly legalize medical cannabis state occurred in 2012 and 2015. In the latter attempt, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave a bill near-unanimous approval, but it failed to reach the Senate floor.