Alabama: Senate President Wants Medical Marijuana Debate
By Steve Elliott
Del Marsh, president pro tem of the Alabama Senate, on Friday said he would like to see the chamber at least debate the merits of a medical marijuana bill, one day after Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Waggoner -- a gatekeeper through which bills make it to the floor -- said the bill was "bad legislation" for which Alabama was "not ready."
"I would like to get it to the floor for debate," said Marsh (R-Anniston), reports Bryan Lyman at the Montgomery Advertiser. "There's some good debate to be had on it. There are issues out there I think need to be discussed."
Marsh admitted that chances of passing the medical marijuana bill are low in the heavily Republican Alabama Senate, but he said he believed there are valid arguments to be made for medical marijuana.
"You have a lot of people many times who are prescribed prescription drugs that lead to addiction," Marsh said. "The argument is medical marijuana prevents that issue. My point is I think it should be open for debate."
Marsh suggested that the bill could make it the floor if there was "a gentleman's agreement not to take action except for discussion."
Senate Bill 326, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), would allow the medicinal use of cannabis for the treatment of at least 25 different conditions, from ALS and cancer to migraines and chronic pain. A doctor's authorization would be required, as would an ID card that would cost $100, that that price could fall if classes were completed.
A five percent sales tax would be placed on medical marijuana, with the proceeds split between municipal police departments and sheriff's offices "to fight drug trafficking."
Despite being a minority on the Judiciary Committee, Democrats on Wednesday managed to carry the bill out over the objections of three Republicans. Three other GOP members were absent for the vote, while a fourth abstained.
For Ron Crumpton, who leads the Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP), which drafted Singleton's medical marijuana bill, it's a personal issue. Crumpton has spinal stenosis, which causes pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. About five years ago, he had to have about 40 percent of his stomach removed due to the pharmaceuticals he was prescribed; at that point, he became a medical marijuana activist, because cannabis would be an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals for him.
"Tell Senator Waggoner he shouldn't make this decision all by himself," Crumpton asked patients and supporters in Alabama. The relevant contact information is below.
Alabama Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Waggoner
District Phone: 205.978.7405
Photo of Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh: Business Council of Alabama/YouTube