Republican filibuster stalls medical marijuana bill in Alabama House
The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday debated SB 46, which would legalize and regulate medical marijuana in the state.
After gaveling in just after 2:00 p.m., the House met until 11:43 p.m., considering SB 46 as substituted and amended. However, the body could not get to a final vote on the bill before the clock hit midnight, due to a minority group of the Republican Caucus deciding to filibuster. SB 46 passed a procedural motion in a 69-31 vote, heavily suggesting it has the support to pass if the chamber can just get to the final vote.
Tuesday was the 28th day of the legislature’s 2021 regular session, so only two legislative days remain before both chambers adjourn sine die. SB 46 could be taken up again on Thursday. The House will convene at 8:00 a.m. that day for the penultimate legislative meeting of the session.
SB 46 is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), a practicing medical doctor; the bill was carried in the House by Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison), a retired law enforcement officer.
Opponents of the bill, among other issues raised, argued that medical marijuana will be a gateway to legalizing recreational marijuana and/or people trying other drugs. They also emphasized that marijuana has not been approved by the FDA for medical purposes and that it is still a Schedule I federal drug. Some said that the medical community is split on marijuana; certain representatives stated that not enough research has been done on marijuana as a medical treatment and that more data is needed.
Ball said, for him, SB 46 is all about compassion. Emotional pleas were heard from a handful of proponents, including Reps. Debbie Wood (R-Valley), Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale) and Allen Farley (R-McCalla).
Wood explained her own battle with cancer changed her from a staunch opponent of medical marijuana to a firm supporter; she said SB 46, for her, is about “mercy.”
Easterbrook outlined that his own son suffered a brain injury from drowning; after taking him to Europe for medical marijuana, Easterbrook’s son was immediately helped.
Farley, another retired law enforcement officer, expressed that his late mother’s health needs and his experience with passing Carly’s Law led him to support medical marijuana.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn