On Friday (May 31), the legislature in Alabama passed a bill which opens the way for legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The Assembly voted 80-19 for the bill while the Senate approved the amendments made by the House by a 27-2 vote. All that is left is for Gov. Ivey to sign the bill into law.
While this bill can be lauded as a step in the right direction, it also comes as a setback for marijuana advocates because the original bill sponsored by Sen. Melson (R-Florence) sought to legalize medical cannabis by 2021 but the version passed by the Assembly and sent back to Senate opted for the creation of a Medical Marijuana Study Commission which will be charged with conducting meetings and compiling recommendations about the best way to kickstart the medical marijuana program.
The proposed commission will include a minimum of three attorneys, four physicians, business representatives and mental health counselors. This commission will hold at least three public hearings and have their report ready by Dec. 1.
For some unknown reason, the findings or recommendations of the commission will not be binding on the legislature regardless of the fact that early in May, the Senate had voted in favor of implementing a medical marijuana program. The framers of the bill probably felt that the legislature needs to have the ability to formulate an implementation law, if that step is ever reached, without having its hands tied by the binding recommendations of the medical marijuana commission.
When House members posed endless questions about the mechanisms through which the medical marijuana law will be enforced and how dosages would be controlled, the sponsors of the legislation decided to switch to the creation of a commission so that all those issues would be explored comprehensively before the matter comes before the Assembly again.
Other questions raised had to do with why Carley’s law was included in this bill instead of separating it. Under Carley’s law passed in 2914, the University of Alabama was authorized and funded to conduct research on the effects of CBD oil. Legislators wanted to know whether the commission would receive input from Alabama University, and they wondered why no report has yet been provided to the House regarding how the funds appropriated for the research have been used and the findings so far made. Carley’s law was renewed for another year despite these protests.
Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) and Geyser Brands Inc. (TSX.V: GYSR) welcome the cautious approach to medical marijuana legalization taken by the Alabama legislature. Hopefully, this approach will enable the state to sidestep any avoidable mistakes during the eventual implementation of the program.
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