Alabama Senate approves medical cannabis, bill heads to the House
Last update: March 13, 2020
Medical cannabis is on the move in Alabama. On March 13, 2020, the Alabama Senate approved the Compassion Act — SB 165 — in a 22-11 vote. It now heads to the House, where the speaker has not committed to giving it a vote.
Sen. Tim Melson, MD sponsors the bill, which reflects the work of a study commission that explored the issue over the fall. A summary is available here.
Alabama’s lack of medical marijuana protections is becoming more and more of an outlier. Thirty-three states, including Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas, allow medical cannabis, and Mississippi voters will get to decide the issue directly in November. Polling shows 75% of Alabama voters support medical cannabis.
But because Alabama doesn’t have a citizen initiative process, the only way to bring a compassionate law to the state is for state lawmakers to pass a bill.
Write your state representative today, and then spread the word to other compassionate Alabamians.
Decriminalization made progress in 2019
Last year, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved SB 98, a decriminalization bill that would have reduced the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a fine of up to $250. Unfortunately, the House version, HB 96, was voted down in committee, 5-6, and the full Senate did not vote on the bill.
This year, Sen. Bobby Singleton introduced a similar decriminalization bill — SB 267 — but it has not yet received a vote or committee hearing. Contact your lawmakers and ask them to make marijuana decriminalization a priority in 2020.
MPP wins First Amendment lawsuit against state of Alabama
In 2016, MPP joined forces with the Institute for Justice to bring a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of Alabama, alleging the state was unconstitutionally pricing MPP and then-MPP Legislative Counsel Maggie Ellinger-Locke out of exercising our First Amendment rights.
The suit was settled in April 2017, when Alabama agreed to make its lobbyist training class available online, instead of requiring Ms. Ellinger-Locke to travel to Montgomery before she could send a single email to a lawmaker. You can learn more about the suit pre-settlement by checking out this op-ed by lead counsel for the suit, Paul Sherman.
Now, thanks to the successful work on the part of the Institute for Justice, we can bring our important work to Alabama as we seek to improve the state’s marijuana policies.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Alabama, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s email alerts.