Alabama has been known to be one of the most conservative states.

Smoking or possessing any amount of recreational marijuana will land anyone in jail. First-time offenders are receptive to a misdemeanor charge punishable to 1-year of jail time and a fine of $6,000. In some cases, the jail term can be suspended with probation. Repeated offenders are charged with a Class C felony that is punishable to up to 1 to 10 years of jail time and a $15,000 fine. The sale of recreational marijuana, even in trace amounts, is a Class B felony and punishable to a 2 to 20 years prison sentence with a $30,000 fine. Selling marijuana to minors can lead to life imprisonment.

In 2019 the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved SB 98

a decriminalization bill that would have reduced the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a fine of up to $250. Unfortunately, the House version, HB 96, was voted down in committee, 5-6, and the full Senate did not vote on the bill.

Alabama has become the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana. On Feb. 19, The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the bill in an 8-1 vote, with one abstention. The next stop for the legislation will be the Senate floor.

The proposal would establish the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission

which would be responsible for overseeing a patient registry database, issuing medical cannabis cards and approving licenses for marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, transporters and testing facilities.

Tim Melson introduced Senate Bill 165, titled “The Compassion Act,” based on recommendations from the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission, a commission tasked with developing legislation and regulations for a medical cannabis market in the state. Melson, an anesthesiologist, and medical researcher said the research and experiences in other states support allowing medical cannabis products as an option for patients suffering from chronic pain, seizures, nausea, muscle spasms, and other debilitating symptoms of about 16 medical conditions listed in the bill.

Let’s hope we can keep this momentum going and have all 50 states legalized and maybe even on a federal level. I think this would really help crime rates and overcrowded prisons. People shouldn’t have to go to jail over a plant!

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