â€‹An Alabama lawmaker said on Friday that he will sponsor a bill during the 2012 session of the Legislature to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Rep. K.L. Brown (R-Jacksonville) said his sister used medicinal cannabis 25 years ago to ease the suffering of her breast cancer, reports Patrick McCreless at The Anniston Star
. According to Brown, the aim of his legislation is to provide similar relief to other chronically ill Alabama patients.
“My sister used it very successfully to control her nausea and pain,” Brown said. “I think the time has come for the state to consider medical marijuana.”
Brown, who said he had already met with state health department officials to consider their potential role if the bill is passed, said he plans to pre-file the bill by November. He will soon meet with other lawmakers to discuss the legislation.
â€‹“I think we’ve got a lot of citizens with Parkinson’s disease, with cancer, with HIV ... we’ve got a lot of people who could benefit from pain control,” Brown said.
The lawmaker emphasized that the bill is in no way part of an attempt to completely legalize marijuana in Alabama.
“This is not a recreational marijuana legalizing bill at all,” Brown said. “It’s strictly for medicinal purposes and will be closely monitored by the health department and law enforcement.”
Sixteen states currently allow doctors to authorize patients to use medicinal cannabis.
“We looked at a lot of bills from other states ... and we thought this one wasn’t going to be a nightmare for enforcement or put patients in a position to not get the medicine they need,” said Ron Crumpton, co-president and executive director of AMMJC.
|Ron Crumpton, AMMJC: “I don’t think it will be that much of an uphill battle”|
â€‹The new bill has a better chance of passing than previous medical marijuana bills in the Alabama Legislature, because it is more specific and better written, according to Crumpton. He lobbied for a medical marijuana bill during the last legislative session, but that one didn’t get very far.
“The new bill actually spells out the medical conditions that a doctor can prescribe marijuana for, while the other one did not,” Crumpton said.
There appears to be more support in the Legislature than in previous years, according to Crumpton.
“I don’t think it will be that much of an uphill battle,” Crumpton said. “Many of the Republicans who took over the Legislature in the last election are younger guys—between 30 and 45—who don’t associate the same stigma with marijuana that older people in their 60s do.”
Rep. Brown agreed that the bill has a good chance of passing.
“You always have somebody who will object to marijuana ... but I think we have a chance to succeed,” Brown said.