Legislative action remains limited
Last update: June 23, 2016
The 2016 legislative session concluded with limited marijuana law reform action. The General Assembly adopted two sensible but modest policy proposals.
The first, Rep. Mike Ball’s HB 61, was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley on May 4, 2016 and builds on the 2014 passage of Carly’s Law. That law established an affirmative defense for patients with intractable epilepsy (or their caregivers) for use of cannabidiol. HB 61 — or “Leni’s Law” — expands this law by creating an affirmative defense for the use of the oil by patients and caregivers who suffer from specified debilitating conditions that produce seizures that are resistant to conventional medicine, provided the patient’s doctor recommends this course of treatment. Carly’s law only permitted healthcare practitioners at the University of Alabama to recommend a patient for use of the oil. MPP applauds this sensible action taken by Alabama lawmakers.
The other policy was enacted on May 10, 2016 and allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp. Rep. Ken Johnson’s HB 393 excludes industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in the state’s controlled substances law. This allows the use of industrial hemp to create cloth, food, fuel, paper, and a host of other commodities. This is a positive step forward for Alabama.
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.
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