AP NEWS

Senate approves medical marijuana bill

May 9, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama could join other states that allow medical marijuana to be purchased by patients with certain health conditions, under a bill approved Thursday in the state Senate.

By a 17-6 vote, senators approved the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence. It now moves to the House of Representatives.

Melson, an anesthesiologist who now conducts medical research, said research shows marijuana can offer relief to patients with certain chronic medical conditions without the addiction of opioids.

“It’s a good step. We’ll continue on downstairs. Hopefully, the governor will sign this thing and we’ll get a good program going,” Melson said.

His bill would set up a state oversight commission and a process for prescribing marijuana for people with qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, autism and other illnesses. Patients with a valid medical cannabis card could not be charged with marijuana possession.

More than 30 states have approved some form of medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Melson said there are multiple safeguards. Patients will have to have a doctor’s recommendation and meet other conditions.

Senators had delayed a vote Wednesday because of a threatened filibuster.

“I guess what I’m wanting you to convince me of is this is not a snake-oil salesman out of the back of a covered wagon saying this cures everything,” Republican Sen. Larry Stutts, an obstetrician from Tuscumbia, said Wednesday.

Previous efforts to allow medical marijuana have faltered in the conservative state.