The bill that would legalize a new treatment method for children with serious neurological and epileptic disorders, known as Carly’s Law, passed the Alabama Senate on a 34-0 vote Tuesday. The bill, SB 174, now moves to be voted on by the House. One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mike Ball, stopped by WHNT News 19’s studio for this week’s Leadership Perspectives.
For Ball, the idea of a treatment that could help ease the suffering of people who have seizures made this a personal issue for him.
"Those who will benefit from it are some of the finest people I've seen. They, and especially these children, they are innocent people. And the idea that there's something out there that can help them significantly, it's just something that couldn't be ignored and there's a lot of eyes open to it now,” said Ball.
The struggle for Ball and other Carly’s Law supporters, though, has been drawing a distinction between the medication—oil derived from THC, the active ingredient in marijuana—and marijuana itself.
"The biggest struggle all along has been to separate the idea of this oil from weed, and when I first started talking about it there were some shocks that I would be doing this,” said Ball. “And when you dig in, you get your emotions all cranked up and you really don't think that clearly. And I knew that what had to happen in order for this to work is that the faces of the children and the evidence that we had surrounding what this is and what the potential is.”
No easy feat, according to Ball, but it was worthwhile.
Several other controversial bills are currently making their way through the Alabama legislature. One bill would allow concealed weapons in cars without a concealed weapon permit.
Ball, a former law enforcement officer, said he isn’t close to making a decision about that bill.
"Well to be quite frank, it's in the Senate, it's a long way before I would have to make a decision on it, and I don't think it's likely to get that far, because we just have a few days left. It was introduced late, and as you get to the end of the session, calendars get blocked, controversial things tied up. I just don't see that getting to the point where I would have a vote on it. So I just don't spend much time reading it, I can talk about the issue."
However, Ball did support last year’s modifications to Alabama’s gun laws.
Another piece of legislation Ball has heard a lot of feedback on is Alabama’s Common Core.
“There are some who think it is the most horrible thing that has ever happened to education and there are some who think it's a good thing,” said Ball. "Some like the direction that education is going in, and then there's another vocal group that doesn't like the direction education is going in.”
Ball said he chalks this divide up to changes in how educators are approaching the education of student.
“As best I can think one of the problems is, this is a change in education philosophy as far as how we approach education. For many years education was thought of as teach children this, this, this and this. Teach them facts, if you're going to do add, you do it this way. A lot of it, there's probably a lot of memorization and that kind of thing. And one of the things that's intriguing about this concept, at least to me, is teaching things a different way. There have been some concerns about curriculum. Regardless of which way you teach, people will always be concerned about curriculum. There will be political agendas that try to creep in, and that we have to guard against.”