Last Update: January 31, 2014
Alabama legislators consider marijuana policy reforms in 2014
Alabama legislators are taking several cautious steps towards more sensible marijuana policies this session. Long-time champion Rep. Patricia Todd introduced HB76 this year, a bill that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. This bill would replace potential jail time and the acquisition of a criminal record with a fine only.
Meanwhile, Republican representative Mike Ball is leading a bi-partisan coalition of compassionate legislators towards a first step to medical marijuana reform. Unfortunately, the proposal falls short in many ways. First, the bill only provides an affirmative defense to prosecution, which means medical marijuana patients would still face the humiliation of arrest and trial, and the burden of an arrest record for the rest of their lives. Second, this bill only applies to the use and possession of cannabidiol (CBD), which is just one component of marijuana. Currently, even high-CBD extracts contain trace amounts of THC, which would remain illegal under this law. Furthermore, this CBD-only approach leaves a vast majority of patients behind. Still, this bill is a good indicator of changing attitudes toward and wider acceptance of medical marijuana.
Please take a moment to let your legislators know that Alabamians strongly support protecting the seriously ill from arrest. A 2004 poll by the Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama found that 75 percent of respondents supported legalizing marijuana for medical use under a doctor's supervision.
Are you a patient, arrestee, clergy member, or member of law enforcement?
If you are supportive and are a patient with a serious medical condition who might benefit from medical marijuana, a loved one of such a patient, a person who has been arrested for possessing marijuana, a medical professional, a member of law enforcement or the clergy, or a lawyer or Ph.D. who might be interested in speaking out, please email email@example.com to see how you can be of special help. Be sure to include your address and nine-digit ZIP code so we can determine who your legislators are.
ACLU study shows Alabama’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
Alabama has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country. Possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year of incarceration. It’s clear these laws have not been successful, and new evidence shows that Alabama’s laws are not being evenly enforced.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Alabama are 4.4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Please take a moment to send a letter to your legislators asking them to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana to a civil fine or ask them to end marijuana prohibition entirely.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Alabama, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.