MONTGOMERY, AL — A bill that allows patients caught possessing certain types of medical marijuana in Alabama to use a medical marijuana necessity defense in court has been introduced in Alabama with bi-partisan support.
While stopping short of authorizing use of medical marijuana in Alabama, the bill is aimed at protecting parents of children with certain neurological and epileptic disorders who possess cannabidiol-based medical marijuana.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, intensive strains of medical marijuana is seeing growing acceptance nationwide at controlling seizures while producing minimal intoxicating effects in children. The most common strain is known as “Charlotte’s Web” after a young girl in Colorado.
Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd of Birmingham, who has unsuccessfully introduced medical marijuana legalization bills to the legislature in the past, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which was introduced by Republican state Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper.
The bill, House Bill 104, has been named “Carly’s Law” after a young girl who suffers from a rare genetic seizure disorder. Carly’s father is a police officer who has been advocating for the legalization of CBD-based medicine derived from marijuana.
If passed, the bill allows patients, or their parents, to introduce testimony by physicians to provide a “defense of necessity” in court if they are charged with unlawful possession of marijuana.
Republican Senator Paul Sanford is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
Sanford says that he is willing to do whatever it takes to pass the CBD medical marijuana bill, even if it costs him re-election, but at the same time he emphasized that he is not seeking full legalization of medical marijuana.
“I’m not asking for the legalization of marijuana, whether medically or recreationally,” Dalton told lawmakers last week. “What I’m asking you to consider is that CBD oil as a marijuana derivative should be considered much in the same way we use morphine, which is derived from opium.”
Rep. Todd says the proposed CBD – bill is so narrowly focused that she hopes other lawmakers will finally support it. However, she said any medical marijuana initiative remains an “uphill battle” in the state Legislature.
Meanwhile, Rep. Todd is expected to continue to introduce comprehensive bills to allow medical marijuana for all of the state’s patients, as well as bills to legalize and regulate marijuana sales by adults. She has already introduced a bill that would decriminalize the first offense of a marijuana possession arrest to a fine-only offense.
Alabama currently has some of the harshest marijuana penalties in the country. Under current law in Alabama, possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.
Alabama’s 2014 legislative session begins January 14.