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Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama governor signs medical marijuana legislation

Alabama medical marijuana signed by Governor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed medical marijuana legislation Monday as conservative opposition to the issue gradually faded after decades of debate.

The program will allow people with one of 16 qualifying medical conditions, including cancer, a terminal illness and depression, 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. While the bill takes effect immediately, the bill sponsor estimated it will be about 15 months or so before medical marijuana is available in the state.

“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 bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson, an anesthesiologist. It was handled in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Mike Ball, a former state trooper and state investigator. The approval came after a number of lawmakers shared stories of loved ones and their illnesses.

“Hopefully, we are going to help some people,” Melson said Monday night.

Melson said for people who have tried other treatments without success, that people will have “another option to treat themselves and get some relief.” The state Senate approved the bill in 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.

The bill would allow the marijuana in forms such as pills, skin patches and creams but not in smoking or vaping products.

The program authorizes use of medical marijuana to treat for conditions including cancer-related nausea or vomiting, or chronic pain; Crohn’s disease; depression; epilepsy, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss; panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease; persistent nausea; post-traumatic stress disorder; sickle cell anemia; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and Tourette’s syndrome.

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.

Ball, who shepherded the bill through the House, said last week that “hearts and minds” were slowly changed on the issue.

“I think we just educated them as much as anything. This wasn’t done on emotion. This was done on science,” Melson said.

Marijuana industry expected to add $92 billion to US economy in 2021

Marijuana industry expected to add $92 billion to US economy in 2021

Marijuana revenue is expected to surpass $90 billion in 2021

From jobs to tax revenue to commercial real estate, the marijuana industry has a large – and growing – impact on the broader economy in the United States.

The total U.S. economic impact from marijuana sales in 2021 is expected to reach $92 billion – up more than 30% from last year – and upwards of $160 billion in 2025, according to analysis from the newly published MJBizFactbook.

To measure the industry’s economic impact, MJBizDaily analyzed similar industries and applied a standard multiplier of 3.5 on projected recreational and medical marijuana retail sales.

The numbers are a best guess because the marijuana industry’s structure is somewhat unique because it encompasses agricultural, manufacturing and retail activity.

The economic impact of the marijuana industry is not the same as supply-chain revenues that are often used to estimate the “total size” of an industry.

Rather, the economic multiplier paints a picture of the impact the industry has on the broader economy.

In this case, for every $1 consumers and patients spend at retail locations, an additional $2.50 will be injected into the economy, much of it at the local level.

That impact comes directly from the day-to-day needs of workers in the cannabis industry, including spending on life’s necessities such as housing, transportation, entertainment and more.

Marijuana businesses, consumers and patients also pay hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local taxes that are used to fund state and local government activities, including schools and roads.

In addition, real estate receives a boost from new retail, manufacturing and agricultural businesses moving into an area or established companies expanding, increasing broader demand for commercial properties.

Cultivating and manufacturing marijuana can require large investments in equipment and technology that boost not only the local economy but also areas throughout the U.S.

The list goes on.

Using the same multiplier methodology can also offer insight into the local-dollar impact from sales of recreational and/or medical marijuana.

The economic impact will vary by state based on the size, maturity and type of market.

For example, as the largest market in the U.S., California’s marijuana industry is expected to pump close to $20 billion into the state’s economy in 2021.

No other state comes close to that amount.

But states such as Colorado, Illinois, Oregon and Washington will provide more than $10 billion each for their local economies in the coming years.

Expect the same for markets in densely populated states such as New Jersey and New York as they develop.

If we consider total population, some states benefit more than others.

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama Approves Medical Cannabis Legalization

Alabama medical marijuana clears state Senate

Alabama lawmakers caved their opposition yesterday and formally approved the state’s medical cannabis legalization bill.

Alabama lawmakers sent a medical cannabis legalization bill to Gov. Kay Ivy (R) on Thursday that will allow qualifying patients to purchase certain forms of cannabis after receiving a doctor’s recommendation, according to the Associated Press.

Although House lawmakers ultimately passed the bill in a 68-36 vote, it was faced by a Republican filibuster, a delay, and finally a two-hour floor debate. The bill then returned to the Senate where it was quickly passed.

Governor spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “We appreciate the debate from the Legislature on the topic. This is certainly an emotional issue. We are sensitive to that and will give it the diligence it deserves.”

Under the law, conditions including cancer, terminal illnesses, chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, and panic disorder will qualify a patient to sign up for the program. The bill will allow patients to purchase pills, skin patches, and creams, but does not allow for the smoking or vaping of medical cannabis products. The legislation was named after Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall, Rep. Laura Hall’s son who died from complications from AIDS.

The bill’s primary sponsor Republican Rep. Mike Ball, who is a former state trooper and state investigator, gave emotional testimony on the House floor.

“Every year that we delay getting help to people who need it, there are more people and more people who are suffering because of it. We’ve still got another year or so before this gets set up and cranked up, but at least we have hope now.” — Rep. Mike Ball

Former state Rep. Patricia Todd — who introduced Alabama‘s first medical cannabis bill in 2013 that would later receive a Shroud Award, an award given to bills deemed the least likely to pass — said she was happy the reforms had finally passed.

“They laughed at me,” she remembered. “I’m glad to see it passed. It’s long overdue.”

Alabama House takes no vote on medical marijuana after 9-hour debate

Alabama House takes no vote on medical marijuana after 9-hour debate

Alabama medical marijuana fails to pass in the House

Republicans in the Alabama House of Representatives blocked a vote tonight on a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax medical marijuana.

The House adjourned at 11:43 p.m. after debating the legislation more than nine hours. They will return at 8 a.m. Thursday.

“I hope and pray that we take up where we’re at and we stay with this until we get an up or down vote,” Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, the House sponsor of the bill, said. “And I think you can see from the votes so far that there is a huge amount of support in this body, bipartisan support.”

Ball was referring to procedural votes on the bill today that passed by wide margins. But the final vote did not come tonight.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said tonight as he left the chamber that the House would return to the medical marijuana bill Thursday morning. McCutcheon said he expects there will be a vote Thursday.

The speaker said the House on Thursday will also consider the bills to allow a lottery and six new casinos in Alabama. Those bills were approved in a committee Tuesday. The key bill in the three-bill package is a constitutional amendment that would require approval by voters in November 2022.

The final vote on medical marijuana never came tonight because a handful of lawmakers made repeated trips to the mic to delay it. McCutcheon said there was not enough support to pass a petition for cloture, which would have cut off the debate. The Republican majority has used cloture petitions to end Democratic filibusters during this session, but in this case would have been shutting off a filibuster by Republicans.

Still, the medical marijuana bill is closer than ever come to becoming law. It has passed the Senate three times but has never come up for a vote in the House.

Several Republican lawmakers opened the debate today by expressing staunch opposition to medical marijuana, saying it would move the state in the wrong direction and they were surprised it was being considered in Alabama.

But the bill cleared a procedural motion that was necessary for the debate to continue. The vote was 69-31. Another procedural vote passed 71-20. The debate continued after that until the House adjourned.

The legislation would set up a system to regulate the production and use of medical cannabis products from the cultivation of the plants to the sales of products at dispensaries.

Doctors could recommend medical marijuana for more than a dozen symptoms and conditions, including chronic pain, nausea and weight loss from cancer, seizure disorders, PTSD, muscle spasms from certain diseases, and others.

The bill, by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, has already passed the Senate. Melson, a physician and medical researcher, said the 69-31 procedural vote was a strong sign that the House would pass the bill tonight.

“I have no doubt that it’s going to pass if it’s given a vote,” Melson said.

Texas House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

Texas House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana

Texas house votes to decriminalize marijuana

The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday approved bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and significantly expand the state’s medical cannabis program.

These are the latest developments to come amid a week that has seen multiple pieces of reform legislation advance in the chamber, including separate measures to reduce penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA.

The bill to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, making the offense a class C misdemeanor that does not come with the threat of jail time, was approved on second reading in the chamber by a voice vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also end the threat of being arrested for low-level possession and give people the opportunity to avoid a conviction by providing for deferrals and dismissals. A final vote on third reading is still needed to formally send the bill to the Senate.

The House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session.

The separate medical cannabis expansion proposal was given final passage in the House in a 134-12 vote, sending it to the Senate. It would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program. The bill passed in the House Public Health Committee earlier this month.

The legislation would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.

While advocates appreciate that Texas lawmakers are moving to expand the state’s existing program, they feel it can be improved upon and hope to see amendments to give more patients access to cannabis when it arrives in the Senate.

Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana And Psychedelics Reform Bills

Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana And Psychedelics Reform Bills

Texas marijuana and psychedelics

The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana concentrates—and lawmakers separately advanced legislation to require studies on the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans.

These actions come at the beginning of a busy week for drug policy reform in the legislature. Additional proposals to decriminalize cannabis possession and expand the state’s medical marijuana program are set to be considered on the House floor over the coming days.

The cannabis concentrates measure would make it so possession of up to two ounces of those products would be downgraded to a class B misdemeanor. The bill cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee earlier this month, and now it’s been approved on second reading in the full chamber, with a final vote to send it to the Senate expected as early as Wednesday.

“With about 30 days left in the legislative session, we are so pleased to see the Texas House advancing meaningful changes to our state’s marijuana laws,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “Now the focus shifts to the Senate, which has historically been a steep uphill battle.”

Meanwhile, the psychedelics research legislation from Rep. Alex Dominguez (D) passed in the House Public Health Committee on Monday. The panel approved amendment that includes changes limiting the scope of the state-funded study to focus on military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rather than a broader list of conditions attached to the initial bill.

The legislation would require the state to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center. It was also amended to mandate a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.

The Health and Human Services Commission would have to submit quarterly reports on their progress, with a full report on the panel’s findings be due by December 2024.

But while both of these bills represent significant developments in drug policy in Texas, they’re just the first pieces of legislation on the issue that will be taken up by lawmakers this week.

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