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As I stated last week, as both a Libertarian and a Constitutionalist, I believe in more liberty and freedom for individuals, as long as any individual does not infringe upon the rights of others, and I believe in less government.
Having more liberty and freedom comes with the burden of individual responsibility. This is true regarding personal health care, and the government of Alabama has for far too long inserted itself where it does not belong by restricting and controlling how people may choose to medically treat themselves.
For tens of thousands of years, we as humans have known how to grow our own foods, sew our own clothing, treat sickness with herbs, build shelters, and survive. Unfortunately for us who are here today, it has only taken two generations to all but erase those skills from humanity and make us as a society completely dependent upon, and at the mercy of, the mass-produced product supply-chain system.
There is nothing new about cannabis. According to genetic and archaeological evidence, cannabis was first domesticated about 12,000 years ago during the early Neolithic period.
The word “cannabis” is from the Greek word κάνναβις (kánnabis), which is derived from the original Scythian word for the plant. The plant has numerous positive uses, as a food source, for its fibers for clothing or rope, and accepted as a medicine up until the 1930s – when the State of Alabama decided to ban cannabis in 1931, mostly because of racial reasons. I admit, I am not a lawyer, but as a Constitutionalist I question where within our State Constitution that the State of Alabama derived the authority to ban a common plant? …But I digress.
On May 17, 2021, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Senate Bill 46, the “Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act.” The bill allows the use of cannabis only by registered patients 19 years of age and older that have a physician’s recommendation for treatment for any of 15 qualifying conditions, including: autism spectrum disorder, cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, epilepsy or a condition causing seizures, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, persistent nausea, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sickle cell anemia, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury, a terminal illness, Tourette’s Syndrome, or any condition causing chronic or intractable pain.
Alabama created The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to control legal cannabis within our state. Unfortunately, to date, almost two-and-a-half years later, the commission has failed to make legal medical cannabis available to even one patient, leaving those in need still subject to Alabama law, wherein first-time possession of personal amounts is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $6,000 and a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension. Repeat offenses and possession with intent to sell are considered felonies.
Three weeks ago, in a Montgomery Circuit Court, lawyers for the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission agreed to once again pause the issuing of medical cannabis licenses while they negotiate with several cannabis companies who have filed lawsuits against the commission.
Those lawsuits are likely to result in what will amount to a process reset. This is what happens when you put together an ad hoc process to accommodate a billion-dollar industry.
For the second time now, we are stopping the issuing of licenses after the AMCC has voted on companies to receive them. The first time it was because of flaws in the grading process. This time it is because of flaws in pretty much everything else.
Multiple lawsuits filed against the commission have exposed deep and troubling mistakes, unfairness and stupid decisions. It’s an embarrassment how the AMCC and its attorneys have botched this, and everyone seems to hold that opinion.
The hearing in Judge James Anderson’s court on August 28 was packed with lawyers, politicos and media. The conversations all contained the same phrase: “This is a mess.”
Even Judge Anderson, near the end of the proceedings, weighed in on the spectacle, telling the attorneys gathered that it was his understanding that Mississippi was six months behind Alabama in passing a medical cannabis law and is on the verge of starting to fill prescriptions.
We can’t even say, “Thank God for Mississippi,” in this case. A pointless hearing was held. Taxpayers wasted more money on a process that is about to enter its third attempt at doing the one thing it is supposed to do.
Should our state ever figure out how to pull its head-quarters out of its hind-quarters, new patients will be restricted to capsules; tablets; skin patches; tinctures; topical oils, gels and creams; suppositories or Nebulizers; and/or inhaler oils and liquids. But first, they have to apply online at https://alabamacannabis.org/medical for an Alabama Medical Marijuana Card and for a Telemedicine Pre-Registration consult, billable at $199 per 15 minutes, with a $99 option of a 30-minute session with a cannabis coach, and/or a $39 option to acquire digital access to their “Medical Marijuana 101” e-book.
All of this is before a patient ever gets their first prescription filled, for some yet-to-be determined hyper-inflated cost, for a medicine that literally any person with a green-thumb could grow as a houseplant and harvest what they needed for themselves, when they needed. But no, Alabama has decided that marijuana that can be smoked or vaped, or marijuana-infused edibles such as cookies and candies, or raw marijuana plant material shall remain illegal.
As President Ronald Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”