After receiving dozens of emails and phone calls from medical marijuana proponents, a key Alabama senator says the bill isn’t necessarily dead.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hill, said he hasn’t changed his viewpoint. He is still against medical marijuana legislation, but on Tuesday he said he would poll members of the rules committee.
The chairman of the rules committee told AL.com last week that medical marijuana legislation was dead; he wouldn’t allow it to be discussed on the Senate floor.
Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, said medical marijuana legislation is too broad to be debated on the Senate floor this year.
“The bill that is before us opens the door way wider than just medical marijuana,” the rules committee member told AL.com today.
The 25 medical conditions outlined in the bill “are pretty broad in scope,” he said, and would cause for misuse of the drug. Pittman said he came to that conclusion after speaking with physicians and with colleagues in the Senate.
Under Sen. Bobby Singleton’s legislation, which narrowly received a favorable report in committee last week, certain patients with chronic conditions could purchase up to 10 ounces of medical marijuana a month. The bill would also allow for a limited number of dispensaries.
Among the conditions allowed under the legislation are autism, clinical depression, ADHD, cancer, migraines and glaucoma.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, told AL.com last week that he wouldn’t let the bill go to the Senate floor. He serves as chairman of the rules committee, which sets the calendar of what bills will be debate on the Senate floor.
On Tuesday, though, he said he would poll the 17-member committee. Waggoner said he has received dozens of emails and phone calls from Alabama residents asking him to change his mind, but he said that won’t change his mind either.
Will there be support for medical marijuana on a Republican-dominated committee?
“(The bill) would definitely need to be tightened down before it could be considered by the Senate,” Pittman, a rules committee member, said. “I am opposed to medical marijuana (this year).”
He said marijuana use doesn’t “help responsibility” or “work ethic.”
Right now, Sen. Bill Hightower, R- Mobile, a rules committee member, said he’d vote against medical marijuana legislation.
“I don’t mind talking about it,” he said, adding that he couldn’t support the legislation now.
Hightower said he thought it was legal for some cancer patients to use cannabis in the state. If that isn’t the case, he said he could reconsider his position.
Last year, the Alabama Legislation approved Carly’s Law which allows children with seizure disorder to receive cannabis (CBD) oil through a UAB study. It doesn’t appear any other use is legal in the state.
“I certainly like the idea of helping people who are terminally ill and in chronic pain,” Hightower said. “When you are in that much pain you will do anything. You don’t even care if it is illegal.
“I am very cautious about this,” he added, “and I would definitely be against any recreational use.”
Another rules committee member, Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, previously spoke out against the legislation. He said he has seen too many teenagers abuse drugs to ever support a medical marijuana bill.
Despite mounting opposition, Singleton said he feels “comfortable” that medical marijuana will go to the Senate for a debate. He hasn’t had a chance to poll the rules committee, though, or determine how many votes for he would have for his bill.
“I think we will have the chance for a spirited debate,” he said.