1 month ago

State Sen. Melson: If we can rush a COVID-19 vaccine, why not medical marijuana? — ‘Here’s something that has been around for thousands of years’

For the third consecutive year, the Alabama Legislature will consider legalizing medicinal marijuana. Efforts have made progress in both chambers of the legislature in previous years but stalled out.

State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), an anesthesiologist, leads the effort once again in 2021. During an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Melson insists the bill, which received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, is the same one that had made it through in the past.

“We passed it out last year, and this is the exact same version that came out of the body last year,” he said. “No surprises, no ‘I gotcha,’ no hidden agenda. It’s the same exact version that passed the Senate by a vote of 2-to-1 last year. So, it shouldn’t be controversial in the Senate any more than last year.”

Melson noted the speed at which a COVID-19 vaccine made it to market and argued medical cannabis should be given a chance.

“I have no agenda,” he added. “I’m not doing this for any big business. I’m doing it for the patients. We rushed through a drug for COVID-19 because the mass numbers and the people who do it — you’ve seen the statistics, what 99.997% of survival rate with no treatment, and we’re rushing things through? Here’s something that has been around for thousands of years, and I think the first article on the treatment of seizures was in something like 1460. There’s a long history. There are a lot of studies. People just need to open their eyes, quit stereotyping it and just give it a chance.”

He also responded to critics of the legislation that questioned the bill because it expands government.

“You’ve had guest members talk about those things, and I think some of the things that stood out to him was it creates a new division of government,” Melson added. “Well, it does, but it is self-sustaining with the revenue it generates. It is not like we’re creating another money pit and a division of government. It will be self-sustaining, or at least that’s what the numbers show. And, you have to do that to make sure that it is regulated and treated as the object that it is. It is something that needs to be grown in a sterile environment or a protected environment, so the quality and quantity of the concentrate are known. There’s no impurities. They call it medical, not because they want to say it treats a disease. ‘Medical’ implies that it is pure in substance and there’s no foreign bodies. There’s no impurities. There’s no pesticides, no heavy metals, and the patients get what they’re knowing. That’s why it’s called ‘medical.'”

Melson also addressed criticisms that the new bureaucracy would have the ability to conduct warrantless searches and seizures.

The Lauderdale County lawmaker likened what it would create to the health department, which he said conducts surprise inspections at restaurants, adding that the element of not knowing when an inspection would occur prevents dispensaries from potentially covering up anything that would violate the guidelines set by the new statute.

Melson’s bill received a favorable report from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

@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.

35 mins ago

Rep. Aderholt warns congressional Democrats moving to allow for taxpayer-funded abortions

FLORENCE — Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has banned the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in the extreme case of saving the life of a pregnant woman or terminating a pregnancy that resulted from incest or rape.

The Hyde Amendment has stood the test time, most recently during the 2010 Affordable Care Act debate. However, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) warns now that Democrats have the House, Senate and White House, the Hyde Amendment is in their crosshairs.

At an appearance before the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, Aderholt discussed the possibility of Democrats ending the Hyde Amendment, adding it could come down to one or two Senate Democrats preventing a vote to end the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate.

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“[O]ne of the things that is most egregious about what’s happening now is abortion — you know, one of those issues that has always been Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on. But one thing Democrats and Republicans could always somewhat agree on was federal funding of abortion off-limits. It’s one thing that if abortion would be allowed, and of course, I’m pro-life. I don’t agree with that. But at least the Democrats would embrace the idea we would not take federal government taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. That is out now. Democrats want to make it so federal funds, your tax dollars, can go for abortion. And that’s a really scary thing.”

“The Hyde Amendment is what we’re talking about. They want to destroy the Hyde Amendment. So, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we keep the Hyde Amendment. It’s hard on Republicans — it’s hard on the House side, the Republicans being in the minority. Then on the Democrat side in the Senate with only 50 votes — then hopefully, we can get Manchin or some of those others to come along with us to try to make the rule out of order. We’re five seats basically from taking the majority in the House of Representatives.”

Aderholt was optimistic about Republicans’ chances in 2022 to regain control of the House but added his party had to be vigilant in the meantime.

@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.

13 hours ago

Shelby, Tuberville vote against Democrats’ $1.9 trillion spending bill

U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Saturday voted against H.R.1319, the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion spending bill supported by President Joe Biden.

The bill originally passed the House with no Alabama Republicans supporting the bill, and — after numerous changes were made in the Senate — the same has now occurred in the upper chamber in a party-lines 50-49 vote. Due to Democrats using the budget reconciliation process to consider this legislation, they were able to act without bipartisan support. The measure will now head back to the House.

The spending bill, which is supposed to be for emergency COVID-19 relief, includes a litany of pet provisions slipped in by Democrats, such as the expansion of Obamacare subsidies and funding for blue state bailouts, Planned Parenthood, union pensions and other items unrelated to the pandemic.

The legislation includes $350 billion to bail out long-mismanaged state and local governments, multiple times the amount experts estimate was needed to address COVID-related items. Only 5% of the funding included for K-12 schools would be spent during the current fiscal year, with 95% instead spent over the next seven years. Additionally, agriculture-related funds in the bill would be spent over the next decade.

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“I voted against this bill today because it could further wreck the economy and ignite inflation,” Shelby explained in a written statement. “This legislation includes a host of non-COVID-related left-wing policies.”

“Not only does it cost the American taxpayers $1.9 trillion, but only nine percent of the funding in the bill goes toward the immediate fight against COVID and one percent toward vaccines,” he continued. “The bill does nothing to get kids back in classrooms and, instead, includes a massive cash bailout for some mismanaged states and local governments. Democrats are forcing a liberal wish list of pet projects through Congress that’s masked as a pandemic rescue package. I am disappointed that we were blocked at every turn from engaging and passing real COVID relief in a bipartisan, targeted manner, just like the Senate did five times last year.”

Republican senators attempted to improve the bill during a process that began Thursday and finally ended shortly after noon local time on Saturday. Tuberville himself filed 23 amendments to the legislation, focusing on providing targeted health and financial relief to those most impacted by the pandemic.

This included amendments to ensure that rural states like Alabama receive a minimum of 30% of all funds appropriated for testing and vaccinations, elementary and secondary schools, small businesses, colleges and universities, restaurants, and state and local governments. To ensure our nation’s most vulnerable have access to the resources needed to combat COVID-19, Tuberville also filed an amendment to remove funding designated for foreign countries and transfer those funds to support American nursing homes. Additionally, he filed amendments to increase funding for veterans’ healthcare and assist state veterans’ homes across the country in protecting their residents from coronavirus outbreaks.

RELATED: Democrats block Tuberville amendment barring federally funded schools from allowing biological males to compete in female sports

“Democrats refused to negotiate with Republicans on this bill from the start because they knew this reconciliation process was their best chance to pass President Biden’s progressive wish list,” Tuberville stated. “To put it into perspective, until today, the most partisan vote on the past five COVID relief bills was 92-6. This bill is a broken promise to the American people – one that hides under the name of ‘COVID relief’ when it should actually be called ‘liberal relief.’ Instead of targeting funds to the people, communities, and businesses who actually need it, this bill sends billions to bail out poorly managed states and puts less than 1% of funding toward vaccines.”

He concluded, “$1 trillion from past relief bills has not yet been used, and the small percentage of the funds in this bill that will actually go to people who really need it will take years to get there. This legislation is a reckless use of taxpayer dollars when what Americans and our economy really needs now is a plan to start reopening.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Auburn defeats Mississippi State 78-71 for Bruce Pearl’s 600th career win

In a season filled with uncertainty, injuries, and the looming notion that Auburn had self-imposed a post-season ban, the Auburn Tigers finished their season on a high note.

Bruce Pearl managed to get his team involved and excited in a season where they could have easily folded and written this season off. However, Pearl got his team focused on the season at-hand and managed to pick up his 600th career win against Mississippi State today.

On Auburn’s post-game radio broadcast, Pearl talked to Andy Burcham after the game. On how he got his team motivated in a year like this, he said, “Really happy with our effort tonight. I was concerned heading into this game knowing that this is our last practice, and this is our last game. You know, we aren’t playing for the tournament, so what is going to be the motivation?”

Effort is the main takeaway from Pearl’s response, and his team has struggled with almost every problem this season except effort.

With what is an admittedly underwhelming season by Auburn’s standards, the Tigers used effort to defeat Mississippi State 78-71 in front of their home crowd in Auburn Arena.

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Earlier in the week, Pearl said that this week of practice was different than any he has ever had at Auburn because the players and coaches knew that this was without a doubt the last game of the season.

For the Tigers, four different players scored in double figures. Allen Flanigan continued to improve and led the team in scoring with 22 points along with four rebounds and two assists.

The team as a whole had one of their best halves of the season in the second half of this game.

Auburn shot 82% from the charity stripe this game which is well above average for the Tigers. They also shot 5-10 from three in the second half, and were over 50% from the field as a whole.

Defensively, the Tigers stepped up big and made it more difficult for the Bulldogs to answer Auburn’s scoring runs. On what changed in the second half, Pearl said, “We played a little bit more zone in the second half. I think we did really well in the zone in this game.”

With Sharife Cooper still out, Auburn needed players to step up again. While Flanigan and Williams led the way in scoring, Jamal Johnson stepped into the point guard role once again this season.

Johnson has been selfless in bouncing around to whatever position he has been needed. He shot 4-8 from deep and dished out seven assists in this game.

On Cooper’s absence, Pearl said, “To win two out of the last three games without Sharife, is just a testament to how much our guys have improved as well as how great of a job my staff has done.”

JT Thor led the team in rebounding with nine boards in the game. Thor also scored ten points against the Bulldogs including a three-pointer.

Dylan Cardwell had one of the more impressive highlights of the game with a turn around three-point jumper as time was running out on the shot clock. In the final game of the season, Cardwell took his first and only long range shot of the season and drained it.

On Cardwell’s circus-type shot, Pearl said, “You know what’s funny is that he hasn’t worked on that shot, but he has been working on his three-point shot. So that was pretty cool, wasn’t it?”

On what it means to get his 600th career win, Pearl said, “It means I’m old, that’s what it means. I’ve been doing this a long time.”

Pearl later continued saying, “I hold myself to a high standard. I answer to God and God only, and he has a really high standard. There is no way I can meet that standard, but I’m going to try, and that is what I expect from the people around me.”

Auburn’s coach will be looking for more wins in the future. As for now, the Tiger’s season is officially over, and Pearl will be looking forward to getting to work on next season.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football and college basketball writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

14 hours ago

Alabama finishes regular season with win over Georgia, looks ahead to SEC tournament

Alabama is enjoying one of their best seasons in recent memory and continued with their winning ways today as they defeated Georgia 89-79 in the Bulldogs’ house.

The Tide have been cruising through the SEC this season, with only two blemishes on their conference record.

With the regular season SEC championship already claimed by Bama, they now have their sights set on the SEC tournament title. They will get a double bye in the tournament and will be the favorite to win it all as the number one seed.

Simply put, if Alabama plays like they have all year, they should have no problem winning the SEC tournament. They have not won their conference tournament in 20 years, so this team will be looking to make a statement that Tide basketball is back.

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Continuing to play as they have all season will consist of not straying far from their game plan, as well as keeping the ball in the hot hand. However, for Alabama the hot hand is almost everywhere on the court.

In the win today over the Georgia Bulldogs, they had five players score in double figures. Jahvon Quinerly led the team in scoring with 18 points. Quinerly also had four rebounds and four assists in today’s game.

Georgia got out to an early 14-point lead in the first half of this matchup but couldn’t hold on as Alabama took over the second half. The Bulldogs kept the game close in the closing minutes, but there was no stopping the Tide’s barrage of threes.

Alabama went 10-22 from deep, which at 45% is well above their season average of 35%. Even from the three-point line where Alabama has looked comfortable all year, they are still improving.

John Petty and Jordan Bruner both went 2-3 from downtown in the win over Georgia. If these two can keep shooting lights out along with Jaden Shackelford and Quinerly, then the Tide will have to continue to live on the three-point line. Head coach Nate Oats has stated he doesn’t want to “live or die by the three,” but Bama has prescribed to the don’t fix what isn’t broken method this season.

While their players can score underneath on the drive, when a team is hitting long range shots like the Tide are, they don’t just stop for philosophy’s sake unless a team makes them abandon the three.

For a team like Alabama, which has been dominant all year, to continue improving into March should have other teams concerned for the upcoming tournaments. As a one seed in the conference tournament, and a projected two seed in the NCAA tournament, the Tide are by no means underrated.

However, with limited non-conference play this season, the Tide could possibly show the nation that they deserve a one seed in the NCAA tournament if they can win their conference tournament.

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football and college basketball writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.

15 hours ago

How Back Forty Beer Company helped to launch Alabama’s brewery scene

About 13 years ago, making beer in Alabama was just a dream for people like Jason Wilson, whose Back Forty Beer Company would go on to help lay the foundation for today’s thriving craft-beer scene.

“I called the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) board and said I’d like to fill out an application for a manufacturing brewery in Alabama,” Wilson recalls. “They said, ‘Son, we’ve not given one of those out since Prohibition.’ I said the application should be short then. They said, ‘If you’re willing to try, I’m willing to send it to you.’”

Both as a fledgling beer baron and during his time as president of the Alabama Brewers’ Guild, Wilson helped push for state laws that allowed stronger beers, brewery taprooms, big bottles including growlers, and on-premise sales—all essential to the industry’s growth.

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Getting started wasn’t easy for the Gadsden native. While raising capital to equip his Gadsden brewery, he had to use a Mississippi brewery to make his premiere beer, Truck Stop Honey Ale.

“They agreed to let me come down on weekends, as long as I was out by Sunday,” says the gregarious Wilson, who stepped down from daily operations in 2019, becoming chairman of Back Forty’s board and self-styled chief storyteller.

Back Forty, which sold its first beer in January 2009, opened its Gadsden brewery three years later and steadily built a seven-state distribution footprint. In 2018, a satellite brewery, taproom, restaurant, and outdoor beer garden opened in Birmingham under a licensing agreement with Doug Brown.

The Birmingham facility, near historic Sloss Furnaces, opened an expansion early this year that increases brewing capacity, adds a canning line, and provides a venue for rehearsal dinners and corporate events.

It also includes a zone for customers to enjoy special ales that are stored for months in casks, where they take on flavors from the wood. “We’re calling it the Back Forty Barrel Room,” Brown says. “We’re lining the walls with barrels aging beers.”

Brown plans other Back Forty outposts, starting with a Huntsville location that he hopes to have open in a couple of years.

The Gadsden and Birmingham breweries operate independently. Each produces the core lineup that includes Naked Pig Ale and Freckle Belly IPA. They also each produce their own seasonal and specialty beers—traditional and modern styles, and whacky-yet-it-works concepts like Peanut Butter Porter, a strong dark ale made with peanuts and peanut butter essence.

Russ Bodner, the executive chef in Birmingham, is standardizing company-wide the ingredients, recipes, and methods for making his kitchen’s popular pub food, like the Back Forty Burger and Korean Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

“When we open other locations, we’ll mirror everything—the beer menu, kitchen menu, and even the music that we play,” Brown says. “Each location will have some uniqueness but we want a common experience.”

A fifth-generation Alabamian, Wilson says he’s proud of the role breweries like his have played in fabricating Alabama’s nationally recognized food and beverage scene.

He’s seen more than four dozen Alabama breweries open since he filed that ABC application. He’s collaborated with some of the state’s best chefs, including for a dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

“We’ve been part of an awesome culinary revolution,” he says.

Back Forty’s Flagship beers

Cart Barn Light (ABV: 4½ percent)

Pawpaw’s Peach Wheat Ale (ABV: 4½ percent)

Truckstop Honey Brown Ale (ABV: 6 percent)

Naked Pig Pale Ale (ABV: 6 percent)

Rollin in the Haze hazy IPA (ABV: 6 percent)

Bama Mosa Brut (ABV: 7 percent)

Freckle Belly IPA (ABV: 7½ percent)

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)