Alabama: Rep. K. L. Brown moving forward with medical marijuana bill

By Patrick McCreless, Anniston Star

There is a truth that must be heard! A local lawmaker is moving forward with his bill that would make marijuana use legal for medicinal purposes, expecting to pre-file the legislation within another week.

Rep. K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville, said Wednesday he had submitted the bill Monday to the state’s Legislative Reference Service. Lawmakers submit their legislation to that department before filing it with the Legislature for consideration.

"What they do is put it in the proper legal jargon," Brown said. "They put it in bill form — that is what happens right before it is filed."

Brown said it should take about a week before he gets the revised bill back from the Legislative Reference Service.

"Hopefully I'll have it in a week and get it filed," he said.

Sixteen states allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain medicinal purposes.

Brown's sister used medicinal marijuana to control her pain before she died of breast cancer 25 years ago, and he sees the measure as a way to help many suffering Alabamians in a similar manner.

However, he has emphasized that the bill was in no way part of a larger effort to decriminalize marijuana completely in the state.

"This is not a recreational marijuana legalizing bill at all," Brown said previously.

"It's strictly for medicinal purposes and will be closely monitored by the Health Department and law enforcement."

The Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition compiled Brown’s legislation earlier this year. The group formed in June for the sole purpose of legalizing medicinal marijuana in Alabama.

Among other things, the proposed legislation lists the medical conditions that can be treated with marijuana and indicates the drug can only be purchased legally at mandated marijuana distribution centers. People given prescriptions for medicinal marijuana will be required to carry identification cards authorized by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Ron Crumpton, co-president and executive director of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, said he has found encouraging support for the bill among many state legislators in the last few months.

“I’ve talked to a lot of legislators who, quite honestly, in the past have not been for us but who are backing us now,” said Crumpton, who has worked with other medical marijuana groups in the past. “I think it has a lot to do with the fact that K.L. Brown is sponsoring it. He’s well-liked.”

Crumpton said he was looking forward to the upcoming state legislative session next year.

“This will be the biggest opportunity this legislation has ever had,” he said. “This will be the first time of it actually having a chance to pass.”

Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.