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State Rep. Ball urges passage of medical marijuana bill — ‘It is time for us to pick it up’

Last week, Mississippi voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana by an overwhelming margin, adding it to Florida as one of the states bordering Alabama with such laws in place.

One of the staunchest advocates of medical marijuana in the Alabama legislature over the past two years has been State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison), who insists that a medical marijuana bill, despite being shelved by the Alabama House of Representatives after being passed by the Alabama Senate in 2019, still has a shot at passage in the immediate future.

In an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “Midday Mobile,” Ball explained the procedural hurdles the effort faced in 2019, which he said could be easily overcome in the immediate future.

“Let me just bring people up to date on where we are on it — when we came up with a pretty good bill in 2019, it came through the Senate and quite frankly, counting the votes — I believe I had the votes to pass it out of the House,” he said. “But there were those in the leadership that had cold feet and it caught them off guard, so they started putting procedural roadblocks in the way to keep it from getting to a vote. And I understand — it was a pretty big step. The Attorney General came out against it, and some people had cold feet. I agreed to back off in 2019 if they would give it a vote in 2020 and give it a fair shot in 2020. And what we did, what I really wanted was to get a study commission in place to bring different people from the business sector, particularly the medical sector more than anything — bring them in, find a place and find ways to develop some protocols and a system in place to deliver cannabis products to people who need it through the medical procedure in a way that can help people.”

“And quite frankly, the commission recommended a very good bill in 2020,” Ball continued. “It came out of the Senate quite handily. It was ready to start moving in the House. I believe the folks in the Health Committee were ready for it. I believe probably would have had the votes to get it out, and we were going to get a fair hearing, I believe. And once we got it to the floor, we were going to pass that thing if pandemic hadn’t hit and caused us to shut everything down too quick.”

The Madison County legislator insisted the same elements are still in place and that it provides for a better framework than what other states are passing through ballot initiatives.

“I haven’t seen anything that changes where that is now for this year,” he added. “It is time for us to pick it up. We have a very good bill. We need to go ahead and pass it. There’s a lot of states referenda that is moving that out, and I don’t think those states are being as nearly deliberative as we are. I think we’ve got a very good bill, very good process, to make medical cannabis available for folks who use it, and it is not, does not have to be a step toward recreational. It can be if someday future legislators want to do it, even if it gets to that point, at least there will be a regulatory structure in place, instead of the way a lot of people do it with political force.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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