State Sen. Stutts: Medical marijuana commission ripe for corruption — Would be Scrushy, Siegelman CON board saga ‘on steroids’
TUSCUMBIA — State Sen. Larry Stutts’ (R-Cherokee) opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana in Alabama is well documented. The still-practicing obstetrician opposes the use of medicinal marijuana, citing its benefits have yet to be sufficiently proven.
As the state legislature is weighing the possibility of the drug’s legalization for medical purposes, Stutts warns of additional consequences should the current proposal under consideration be passed into law.
During a meeting of the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, the Colbert County lawmaker said there was the possibility the commission created by the current proposed legislation would be susceptible to corruption. He said the 11-member commission created by proposal was akin to alleged Certificate of Need Board abuses, which led to the downfalls of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Gov. Don Siegelman.
“Let me tell you how the bill sets it up — it sets up an 11-member commission that’s appointed that determines who gets to grow it, who gets to process it, and who gets to sell it,” Stutts said. “Let’s look back just a few years when Richard Scrushy and Don Siegelman went to prison. It was worth $500,000 for Richard Scrushy to get a seat on the Certificate of Need (CON) Board. How much do you think it would be worth to get to be one of the 11 people that control marijuana in the entire state? You talk about expanding government and the potential for corruption.”
“The bill specifies they’re going to give out 34 licenses for dispensaries around the state,” he continued. “How much would it be worth to get one of those 34 licenses? How much would it be worth to get the dispensary permit for Jefferson County, for the City of Birmingham? You talk about opening up the potential for corruption? And having an 11-member appointed [board]? You’re almost creating a whole new branch of government that’s going to oversee. It’s going to be taxed at 9%. How many millions and millions of dollars is that going to generate, and you’ve got an 11-member commission that decides who gets to do that. To me, it is just so much potential for growing government, raising taxes, and the potential for abuse of that system is just astronomical. That is the CON board on steroids, in my opinion.”