Brown now wants legislation to provide similar relief to other chronically ill Alabama patients.
A Republican of Jacksonville, Brown said Friday that he will sponsor a bill during the 2012
legislative session to legalize medicinal marijuana in Alabama.
“My sister used it very successfully to control her nausea and pain,” Brown said. “I think the time has come for the state to consider medical marijuana.”
Brown said he expects to pre-file the bill by November. Brown added he had already met with state health department officials to discuss their potential role in providing medicinal marijuana if the bill is passed and will soon meet with other lawmakers to discuss the legislation.
“I think we’ve got a lot of citizens with Parkinson’s Disease, with cancer, with HIV … we’ve got a lot of people who could benefit from pain control,” Brown said.
Brown emphasized, however, that the bill was in no way part of a larger effort to decriminalize marijuana completely in the state.
“This is not a recreational marijuana legalizing bill at all,” Brown said. “It’s strictly for medicinal purposes and will be closely monitored by the health department and law enforcement.”
Currently there are 16 states that allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for certain medicinal purposes.
The Alabama bill in question was compiled by the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, a group formed in June with the sole purpose of legalizing medicinal marijuana in the state.
“We looked at a lot of bills from other states … and we thought this one wasn’t going to be a nightmare for enforcement or put patients in a position to not get the medicine they need,” said Ron Crumpton, co-president and executive director of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition.
Crumpton said the new bill has a better chance of succeeding than previous marijuana bills submitted to the Legislature because it is more specific and better written. Crumpton lobbied for a medical marijuana bill during the last legislative session that did not get very far.
“The new bill actually spells out the medical conditions that a doctor can prescribe marijuana for, while the other one did not,” Crumpton said.
Crumpton said there appears to be more support for the medical marijuana in the Legislature than in previous years.
“I don’t think it will be that much of an uphill battle,” Crumpton said. “Many of the Republicans who took over the Legislature in the last election are younger guys — between 30 and 45 — who don’t associate the same stigma with marijuana that older people in their 60s do.”
Crumpton added that the support of a legislator like Brown was also a benefit.
Brown said he also thought the bill had a good chance of passing in the Legislature.
“You’ll always have somebody who will object to marijuana … but I think we have a chance to succeed,” Brown said.
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.