Legislation to legalize production, dispensing and use of medical cannabis passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday on an 8-1 vote.
SB 165 by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, would make medical marijuana available to people with 15 qualifying conditions who have a physician certification. The bill would authorize distribution of cannabis pills, gummies, oils, patches, creams and inhalers at 34 licensed dispensaries. It specifically prohibits the use of raw, smokable and vaping marijuana products.
The legislation authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Industries to regulate the cultivation of medical cannabis and requires a seed-to-sale system to track all aspects of production, from cultivation to sale of final product. A newly created Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission would oversee a patient registry and dispensaries.
Alabama Farmers Federation External Affairs Department Director Matthew Durdin said the bill was amended seven times in committee and will likely change again before receiving a vote in the full Senate.
“We are closely monitoring this legislation to ensure, if medical cannabis is legalized, it would be grown by Alabama farmers,” he said. “The Federation also is reviewing the legislation and any proposed amendments in light of the organization’s policies related to drug abuse and government accountability.”
Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Sheffield, cast the lone “no” vote in committee, and Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, abstained. A Melson-sponsored medical marijuana bill passed the Senate last year but stalled in the House of Representatives, which instead passed legislation creating a study committee.
If SB 165 is approved, Alabama would become the 34th state to legalize medical cannabis.