Alabama legislators consider marijuana policy reforms in 2013
The Alabama House of Representatives held public hearings on two bills in 2013: a medical marijuana bill and a bill that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol. While neither bill received a vote in the full House, these bills were an important step in Alabama re-examining its costly and ineffective marijuana policies. Unfortunately, the medical marijuana bill, HB 2, was voted down by the House Health Committee. HB 550, which would have made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, was considered by the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security but did not receive a vote. Both bills were sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham).
HB 550, also known as the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013, would have allowed adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to 12 plants in a secure space. It would have taxed marijuana similarly to alcohol and would have tasked the Alabama Department of Revenue with licensing retail outlets and regulating the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over. In addition to allowing a regulated and taxed marijuana industry, HB 550 would have also set up a medical marijuana program.
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. If advocates can convince other legislators to join Rep. Todd as co-sponsors, chances of passing a bill in 2014 will improve dramatically.
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.