Smoke Rises in the South

ammjc its about time Smoke Rises in the SouthIt seems that in this wave of marijuana reform, the southern states - notorious in their stance against the drug - have finally been swayed, or at least, drafted. Late last week Patricia Todd brought before the Alabama House Bill 550, entitled the “Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013.” This nifty new little bill proposes legalization of marijuana possession up to one ounce per individual and also allows for the growth of twelve mature marijuana plants at a time by legal aged adults - those over 21. The bill would also fall in line with legislation recently pushed forward in Kentucky, establishing the legal use of hemp for industrial purposes. Throughout the bill there is an insistence that marijuana be legally displayed for sale in storefronts, much like tobacco or alcohol products. Whether this be to work against the social stigma related to the drug - a stigma which according to last week’s Pew survey, more than half of Americans no longer recognize - or an attempt to simply sell more of the drug and hence increase state revenue, it seems Alabama law makers are intent on getting mary jane out there, and that they have a detailed plan of how to make this happen. Interesting points of the bill discuss the creation of non-profit medical marijuana cultivation, dispensing and delivery services, which would act on behalf of the government to aid in the process of medical patients obtaining the drug. Other areas of the bill spoke to the state’s responsibility in the regulation of marijuana, including implementing testing centers for cannabis to check stock for contaminates such as mold, chemical residues, and other substances which can corrupt crops and cause potential human harm. The bill suggests these cannabis testing facilities would also work to “analyze and certify the safety and potency of cannabis.”   The bill also took some time to redefine the relationships required between medical patients and their physicians, rules regarding identification cards, and a list of a whooping twenty-one disorders, conditions, treatment plans and diseases deemed worthy of a medical marijuana license. Within this list are vague general conditions like “chronic pain” and “depression” and the bill goes on to state that anyone suffering from a condition which “if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient’s safety or physical or mental health” is also deserving of medical marijuana license. It all sounds a little non-specific really - which, given the overall purpose of the bill - seems logical. But maybe some of this is wasted breathe, for who really cares who’s seeking the drug medically anymore if it’s being sold for recreational use? Hopefully, this bill will help lessen wait times for those who medically need the herb, and are willing to go through the extra hassle to gain access to these proposed non-profit centers and services, as most of the state’s users seek a more on-the-go method, stopping at a local legal dispensary and selecting their next joint from a cabinet next to the cigarettes and lottery tickets.

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