Legislative action remains limited


Last update: March 21, 2016


The 2016 legislative session is in full swing, yet action on marijuana law reform remains limited. The General Assembly is currently considering two sensible but modest policy proposals.

The first, Rep. Mike Ball’s HB 61, 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 seeks to expand this law by creating an affirmative defense for the use of the oil by patients and caregivers who suffer from any condition that is resistant to conventional medicine provided the patient’s doctor recommends this course of treatment. Under the current law, only healthcare practitioners at the University of Alabama can recommend a patient for use of the oil.

The other policy proposal being considered is whether to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp. Sen. Paul Bussman’s SB 347 and Rep. Ken Johnson’s HB 393 would both exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in the state’s controlled substances law. Industrial hemp could then be used to create cloth, food, fuel, paper, and a host of other commodities. Let’s hope that lawmakers will do the right thing and pass these pieces of commonsense legislation.

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.

Stay connected


To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Alabama, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.

Pending Legislation