Alabama bill proposes to extend Carly’s law, officially establishing medical marijuana in the state
A former member of the Major Crimes Unit of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and current State Representative, Mike Ball, introduced legislation to legalize medical marijuana in the Heart of Dixie.
“This is about helping sick people,” Ball told AL.com. Ball previously sponsored the bills now known as Carly’s Law and Leni’s Law, respectively. According to Ball, both laws need to be extended and amended.
“Carly’s law expires and we need to extend that. There need to be clarifications on Leni’s Law,” Ball stated.
Carly’s Law allows for the University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct research on the use of cannabidiol under specific circumstances, providing a defense against the unlawful possession of marijuana under the research program. The law will expire on July 1, 2019.
Leni’s Law provides all Alabamans with a defense against the unlawful possession of CBD if the person has a specific debilitating medical condition. The bill would amend Leni’s Law to make changes to the substantive provisions of the law. Additionally, the bill proposes to repeal Leni’s Law on November 1, 2020.
Ball’s bill, HB 243, would create an exemption from the crime of marijuana possession for people over the age of 19 with medical conditions who qualify for a valid medical cannabis card to use cannabis or marijuana for medical relief.
“We want to give doctors latitude on this,” Ball said.
What HB 243 will do if passed into law
Under current state law, the unlawful possession of marijuana is a Class C or Class D felony, and unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
HB 243 would establish the Alabama CARE Act, allowing those with qualifying medical conditions to receive a valid medical cannabis card for the medical use of cannabis.
Additionally, the bill would establish a state Medical Cannabis Commission. The Commission would be tasked with establishing and administering a patient registry system that tracks those with commission-approved medical cannabis cards.
The Commission would also have to establish licenses for the cultivation, processing, transportation, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis in the state.
“We’ve got to have a legitimate way of regulating cannabis,” Ball stated. “This will be strictly regulating it.”
What are the odds of the bill passing?
HB 243 currently enjoys bi-partisan support, with 20 registered co-sponsors of the bill. The sponsors include the state Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon.
“The speaker’s always been supportive on this,” Ball said. However, some legislators have different views about state popular opinion on pot.
“Fear is one of our biggest enemies. We don’t need to let fear stop us from helping people. It’s a shame it has taken this long to unlock what [marijuana] can do medically,” Ball said.
Ball argues that the state’s fear of people abusing cannabis is not a sufficient or sustainable argument against allowing relief for people suffering from various medical conditions.
“If people want to abuse, they can go out and buy a bag of dope. The only people we’re hurting is people who have legitimate medical needs,” Ball said.
Ball stated that prior to the passage of Leni’s Law and Carly’s Law, Alabamans with conditions such as epilepsy could have benefited from medical marijuana, but due to the criminality of cannabis, were denied access to medical marijuana.
“There were people suffering because they could not get it. They were not criminals and should not be prosecuted,” Ball said.