MONTGOMERY, AL — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed medical marijuana legislation Monday as Republican opposition to the issue faded after decades of debate.
The program will allow people with a qualifying medical condition to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. The approval came eight years after a medical marijuana bill in 2013 won that year’s so-called “Shroud Award” for the “deadest” bill of the year in the House of Representatives.
Ivey called signing the bill an “important first step” and thanked the sponsors of the bill for their work.
“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days,” Ivey said.
The state Senate had already approved the bill last February by a 21-8 vote after just 15 minutes of debate. But the House of Representatives had traditionally been more skeptical of medical marijuana proposals and sent the bill through two committees before approving it 68-34.
More than a dozen conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain would allow a person to qualify. The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.
Representatives voted to name the bill after the son of a state Democratic representative, Laura Hall. She had first introduced a medical marijuana bill over a decade ago after her son Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall had died of AIDS.