For the third year in a row, the Alabama Senate has approved medical cannabis legislation. On February 24, 2021, the Senate passed Sen. Tim Melson’s Compassion Act — SB 46. Last year, the virus derailed the legislative session, and the bill never received a House vote.
Let your state legislators know you want them to improve and enact SB 46. We’ve provided a summary of the bill here. While it is far better than the status quo, there are a number of provisions that are unnecessarily burdensome on patients. The bill steers pain patients to try opioids first, and it requires doctors to jump through hoops — including a four-hour course — that will depress participation..
Alabama’s lack of medical marijuana protections is becoming more and more of an outlier. Thirty-six states, including Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, allow medical cannabis, and polling shows 75% of Alabama voters support it.
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 legislators today, and then spread the word to other compassionate Alabamians. Let your lawmakers know that patients are counting on them to pass this important bill.
Decriminalization on the move
On March 3, 2021, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Sen. Bobby Singleton's (D) decriminalization bill — SB 149 — in a 6-3 vote. The bill would reduce the penalty for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis to a violation carrying a $250 fine. It would also make possession of larger amounts a fine-only offense. SB 149 now heads to the full Senate.
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.