MONTGOMERY, Ala. – After the November election, 36 states now have laws allowing marijuana for medical treatments. Alabama is not one of those states.
A bill – again – making its way through the Alabama Legislature could change that, but House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, says there are reservations among his colleagues.
A year later, a Senate committee has approved a similar bill, it’s expected to pass the Senate, but McCutcheon says questions remain.
“We’re going to see what the senate passes out to see if and I say that ‘if’ because the bill hasn’t been on the floor yet,” he said. “But if and when that bill goes to the floor, let’s see what they send us, and then we’ll work from there.”
The bill sponsored by Shoals-area Sen. Tim Melson, a physician, would not allow smokeable marijuana, but OKs pills and other forms. It would be allowed as a treatment for a number of conditions, including cancer, PTSD, anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic pain. But, McCutcheon said House members remain wary.
“We still have a lot of members that are concerned about the regulation of the marijuana and to make sure that it doesn’t open up a door to be able to sell this marijuana on every street corner, as it as it has happened that way in some states that have approved the marijuana,” he said. “And we want to make sure that that doesn’t happen in our state.”
McCutcheon, a former police investigator, says he’d prefer the federal government address the issue. While multiple states have legalized marijuana, and numerous studies have pointed to its effectiveness as a pain reliever, it is still federally classified as a Schedule I drug – drugs defined as having no medical purpose and have a high potential for abuse. The DEA’s list of Schedule I drugs also includes heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
“Honestly, my personal feeling if I took my speaker’s hat off and put my local legislator’s hat on, my concern I wish the federal government would address this,” he said. “And that way, we’re not trying to pass some legislation dealing with a drug that the federal government has not approved. I don’t know when the federal government might even approach that, that’s out of my authority range, so let’s just see. Let’s just see where we are with the bill we could get from the Senate.”