Commission Holds First Medical Marijuana Public Meeting
A state appointed group is working to draft a bill that would make medical marijuana use legal in Alabama.
It held its first public meeting Tuesday at the State House.
Some in attendance included Cynthia Atkinson.
“I’m trying not to get emotional,” Adkinson said, standing before the Commission.
She knows all too well what it’s like to lose a loved one.
Her husband Dan suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.
He passed away in 2017.
Before DAn died, the couple tried to find relief for his pain and traveled across the country to try medical marijuana.
“I’m passionate about it because I saw relief that he received from this, and its’ natural component versus a synthetic medicine,” Adkinson said.
Now, a state appointed commission is preparing to travel the state to hear from Alabama residents, before deciding on a bill that could make it legal to use medical marijuana in the state.
The 15 member Alabama Medical Cannibis Commission was brought together last spring after a previous medical marijuana bill failed in the State House.
“One thing we don’t want to do is to have it to be a gateway drug or something and it leaves to other substance abuse,” Dr. Steven Stokes said.
Stokes is a practicing oncologist from Dothan, Alabama. He serves a Florida community and was chosen to be a part of the Commission.
The group is evaluating other states’ laws to determine what is best for the state.
“We’re looking at who’s allowed to grow it, who’s going to dispense it, who’s going to make sure its a pure product and a reasonable product,” Senator Tim Melson said. Melson was the sponsor of the previous medical marijuana bill and current Commission Chairman said.
Topics of interest include licensing, regulation, costs, and benefits — all of this information collected will go into writing a revised medical marijuana bill.
“We want them to know that this is medical and not recreational,” Melson said. “If you start confusing the two and the lines cross, and then you’re like ‘its easy to be negative about it.'”
“He fought the good fight but I do believe there would have been a lot less side effects as a result of trying something that’s much more a natural approach- you know it’s a plant- it’s not a synthetic chemical drug,” Adkinson says.
The group must submit its final proposal to the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem by December 1st.
The commission is planning its next meeting for September in Mobile.
There are currently 33 other states that have approved medical marijuana or allowed the use of canibis for medical reasons.