Last Update: September 23, 2014

Alabama lawmakers approve a high-CBD bill

This year, Republican representative Mike Ball and his Senate counterpart Paul Sanford successfully led a bi-partisan coalition of compassionate legislators towards a first step to medical marijuana reform. Signed by Gov. Robert Bentley on April 2, it is known as Carly's Law, named after 3-year-old Carly Chandler of Birmingham, who suffers from a rare genetic epileptic disorder.

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 high-CBD (cannabidiol) extracts, which consist of just one component of marijuana. Furthermore, this CBD-only approach leaves a vast majority of patients behind. Finally, 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. Still, this bill is a good indicator of changing attitudes toward and wider acceptance of medical marijuana.

Please take a moment to thank your legislators for this first step, and then encourage them to support a comprehensive medical marijuana bill next year. All seriously ill Alabamans deserve the same compassion. 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 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.

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