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Legislature approves medical marijuana bill

By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers overcame years of resistance and gave final passage to medical marijuana legislation on Thursday, capping a long and emotional debate in which key Republican lawmakers described switching sides in favor of the proposal.

The House of Representatives voted 68-34 to pass the bill, which would allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. The Alabama Senate late Thursday voted to accept House changes and sent the legislation to Gov. Kay Ivey.

The state Senate had already approved the bill last February by a 21-8 vote after just 15 minutes of debate. But the House of Representatives had traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and sent the bill through two committees before it reached the House floor.

Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said the governor’s office would review the bill.

“We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves,” Maiola said late Thursday night.

The approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill in 2013 won that year’s so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill of the year in the House of Representatives.

But Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who shepherded the bill through the House, said “hearts and minds” were slowly changed on the issue.

Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator, said he also switched his stance on medical marijuana, becoming emotional at times.

“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now,” Ball said.

More than a dozen conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain would allow a person to qualify. The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of a state Democratic representative, Laura Hall. She had first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall had died of AIDS.

Representatives debated the bill for nearly 10 hours Tuesday until lawmakers adjourned shortly before midnight without a vote. House lawmakers did not meet Wednesday and representatives approved the bill Thursday after two hours of debate, before the Senate gave final approval.

The lengthy House debate brought impassioned discussion that included lawmakers expressing fervent opposition. Others spoke, however, of changing their minds on the issue after witnessing the illnesses of family members.

“This can change the quality of life for the people that we love,” said Republican Rep. Allen Farley, a former police officer.
The bill had faced an earlier filibuster from opposed Republicans, who worried that it could be a gateway to recreational use or that medical marijuana could end up in the hands of teens.

“What makes us think we know more than the FDA. My other thought is what if we’re wrong. What if we approve and pass this bill and it is a gateway like it has been for Colorado,” Republican Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa said Tuesday.
A medical marijuana bill in 2013 won the Shroud Award for the “deadest bill” in the House.

“They laughed at me,” former Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd, the sponsor of the 2013 bill said Thursday of the reaction she got from some Republicans at the time.

“I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue,” Todd said.


Roll Call Vote on Senate Bill 46, Medical Marijuana

Rep. Louise Alexander, D-BessemerYES
Rep. Wes Allen, R-TroyNO
Rep. Alan Baker, R-BrewtonNO
Rep. Mike Ball, R-MadisonYES
Rep. Chase Bedsole, BriarsfieldNO
Rep. Chris Blackshear, R-Phenix CityYES
Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-AnnisonYES
Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-MobileYES
Rep. K.L. Brown, R-JacksonvilleYES
Rep. Chip Brown, R-MobileYES
Rep. Jim Carns, R-Vestavia HillsNO
Rep. Prince Chestnut, D-SelmaYES
Rep. Adline Clarke, D-MobileYES
Rep. Steve Clouse, R-OzarkYES
Rep. Merika Coleman, D-BirminghamYES
Rep. Terri Collins, R-DecaturYES
Rep. Danny Crawford, R-AthensYES
Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-HuntsvilleYES
Rep. Will Dismukes, R-PrattvilleYES
Rep. Dickie Drake, R-LeedsYES
Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-MobileYES
Rep. Brett Easterbrook, R-FruitdaleYES
Rep. Corley Ellis, R-ColumbianaNO
Rep. Chris England, D-TuscaloosaYES
Rep. Tracy Estes, R-WinfieldNO
Rep. Allen Farley, R-WarriorYES
Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain BrookNO
Rep. Joe Faust, R-FairhopeYES
Rep. Bob Fincher, R-WoodlandYES
Rep. Berry Forte, D-EufaulaYES
Rep. Danny Garrett, R-TrussvilleNO
Rep. Victor Gaston, R-MobileYES
Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-BirminghamYES
Rep. Jeremy Gray, D- OpelikaYES
Rep. Lynn Greer, R-RogersvilleYES
Dexter Grimsley, D-HeadlandYES
Rep. Laura Hall, D-HuntsvilleYES
Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-BryantNO
Rep. Corey Harbison, R-CullmanYES
Rep. Jim Hill, R-MoodyYES
Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-BirminghamYES
Rep. Mike Holmes, R-WetumpkaNO
Rep. Ralph Howard, D-GreensboroYES
Rep. Steve Hurst, R-MunfordYES
Rep. Reed Ingram, R-MontgomeryNO
Rep. Gil Isbell, R-GadsdenYES
Rep. Thomas Jackson, R-MobileYES
Rep. Mike Jones, R-AndalusiaNO
Rep. Sam Jones, D-MobileYES
Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-RussellvilleNO
Rep. Wes Kitchens, R-ArabNO
Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-HaynevilleYES
Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter, RainsvilleYES
Rep. Paul Lee, R-DothanYES
Rep. Craig Lipscomb, R-GadsdenNO
Rep. Joe Lovvorn, R-AuburnNO
Rep. Rhett Marques, R-EnterpriseYES
Rep. AJ McCampbell, D-DemopolisYES
Rep. Thad McClammy, D-MontgomeryYES
Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-HuntsvilleYES
Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay MinetteYES
Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-MontgomeryNO
Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-BirminghamNO
Rep. Parker Moore, R-HartselleYES
Rep. Mary Moore, D-BirminghamA
Rep. Tashina Morris, D-MontgomeryYES
Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-GadsdenYES
Rep. Ed Oliver, R-DadevilleYES
Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-KillenYES
Rep. Bill Poole, R-TuscaloosaYES
Rep. Chris Pringle, R-MobileYES
Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-BirminghamYES
Rep. Rex Reynolds, R-HuntsvilleNO
Rep. Kerry Rich, R-AlbertvilleYES
Rep. Proncey Robertson, R-Mt. HopeYES
Rep. Ben Robbins, R-SylacaugaNO
Rep. John Rogers, D-BirminghamYES
Rep. Connie Rowe, R-JasperYES
Rep. Howard Sanderford, R-HuntsvilleNO
Rep. Rod Scott, D-FairfieldYES
Rep. Chris Sells, R-GreenvilleYES
Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-LeesvilleNO
Rep. Randall Shedd, R-CullmanYES
Rep. Harry Shiver, R-Bay MinetteNO
Rep. Matt Simpson, R-DaphneNO
Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle ShoalsNO
Rep. Jeff Sorrells, R-HartfordYES
Rep. Kyle South, R-FayetteYES
Rep. Van Smith, R-ClantonNO
Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-HartselleNO
Rep. David Standridge, R-HaydenNO
Rep. Shane Stringer, R-CitronelleNO
Rep. Rodney Sullivan, R-NorthportNO
Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-BirminghamYES
Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-ArleyYES
Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-TuskeegeeYES
Rep. David Wheeler, R-Vestavia HillsNO
Rep. Andy Whitt, R-HarvestYES
Rep. Ritchie Whorton, R-Owens Cross RoadsNO
Rep. Margie Wilcox, R-MobileYES
Rep. Rich Wingo, R-TuscaloosaNO
Rep. Randy Wood, R-AnnistonNO
Rep. Debbie Wood, R-ValleyYES

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