Alabama Prepares for the Holidaze with Updated Weed Laws
Just four months into the new year, countless states have introduced pro-cannabis legislation. Late last year, the U.S. witnessed states like Montana and South Dakota join the party. Alabama is up next. A Senate-passed bill to legalize medical marijuana in Alabama cleared a key House committee on Wednesday, but not before members also approved several amendments to the proposal.
What we know
The bill, authored and sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-AL), would allow people with qualifying conditions to access cannabis for medicinal purposes. The Alabama Senate approved the proposal last month, and now the House Judiciary Committee has advanced it in a voice vote.
The bill is now on its way to the House Health Committee before moving to the house floor.
Melson is the same lawmaker who sponsored a similar bill approved by the full Senate last year but later died without a House vote amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest proposal would establish an Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to implement regulations and oversee licensing.
Many critics are quick to point out the bill’s list of qualifying conditions. To be eligible for the cannabis program, patients would have to be diagnosed with one of approximately 20 conditions. Some of these conditions are borrowed from other states with active medical cannabis programs. A few conditions included anxiety, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and intractable pain. Regulators would not be able to add additional requirements, leaving that decision up to Alabama lawmakers.
The MORE Act has been trying to get enough momentum in Congress to be heard on the house floor for a few years. Also known as H.R. 3884, the MORE Act was initially drafted and sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York. The MORE Act would ultimately find bipartisan support of a whopping 120 cosponsors. Summarily, the MORE Act can decriminalize cannabis on a federal level once and for all. Additionally, the act would finally remove cannabis from the list of scheduled I controlled substances. This would allow cannabis to be studied on a federal level. The MORE act will also force a tax on cannabis at a 5% rate federally. The tax rate is likely to increase to 9% if the bill can make it through the Senate.
The MORE Act’s trajectory in the US Senate
Before any bill can become law, it must first be presented and passed in the House of Representatives. Once passed, it will be sent to be tried in the United States Senate. Political theorists maintain the belief that this is where the MORE Act will fall. Additionally, they believe the crushing blow to rid lawmakers of the MORE Act will come from the Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell’s hands. However, A shift of party control in favor of the Dems in the Senate occurred due to the Georgia runoff election. This effectively forced Senator Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell to flip-flop positions in the Senate. Considering that the MORE Act’s biggest suppressors have been stripped of previous powers, cannabis legalization on a federal level is closer than ever.
How the MORE Act will assist those wronged by cannabis prohibition
The MORE Act has an abundance of pro-cannabis clauses outside of its removal as its schedule I substance. According to the abstract of H.R. 3884, the MORE Act would “establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses, and directs the Government Accountability Office to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.” Moreover, the passing of the MORE Act would “establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs.