AL House Debate on Medical Marijuana Gets Personal (with video)
Updated: Aug 20
We recorded much of the Alabama House of Representatives debate and votes on SB46, The Compassion Act. They are doing it in parts. The final vote is expected on Thursday, May 6.
On May 5, the Alabama House of Representatives debated SB46, The Compassion Act, which would make medical cannabis legal and set up controls to protect from increasing illegal/recreational use.
The discussion became very personal as representatives spoke about their own experiences and those of their constituents that motivate their feelings for this bill, one which does affect the personal concern of individual health.
Some told of the suffering they've come to know of that may be reduced by cannabis. Others spoke of their own experience with severely ill children and the difficulty of trying to find appropriate treatments that are not available in this state.
Particularly poignant was the story from Representative Brett Easterbrook told of his own child with seizures and the doctors saying marijuana would help. He said he had to go to Europe to get the access.
"I was a Pharisee, set in judgement," said Representative Debbie Wood from Chambers County. She spoke of her experience with cancer and the fact that opioids were not good as a long-term option for her, yet she had no other options at the time. That experience humbled her, she said (as she fought against crying), and now she first looks at others with mercy. "People need options," she said.
Representative Mike Ball described the two sides as primarily motivated by compassion or fear. He said the fear is looking at just the prospective bad of marijuana. But he encouraged them to look at the good of this bill for reducing suffering and putting in protective controls.
The Bible and Sunday School came up in the discussion, at one point bringing Ball to tears as he referred to a boy who died and the story of Jesus healing. He said his own intentions are the same (healing) by proposing this bill.
Some told of family members who could have benefited in the last days of their lives by having the option of cannabis that would have given more quality than morphine. Those who opposed the bill had their own personal stories of family or even their own history of drug or alcohol use or abuse and the impact this had. They shared their fear that the state would be permanently changed and that inevitably, recreational use of marijuana will be proposed later and they don't want to start toward a slippery slope. At one point, two of the representatives exchanged a hug of support on the floor.
The video above has Part 1 of the recording we made of the debate. More will come.
But now is the time to contact your representative. The final vote is expected on Thursday, May 5. Note that if you contact your representative, be sure to include that you live in his/her district.
In that video, you can see some of the representatives who oppose the bill or are not decided and express concerns. They include:
Rep. Ginny Shaver from Cherokee, Calhoun, Cleburne, and DeKalb Counties - find her contact info here
Rep. Tommy Hanes from Jackson and DeKalb Counties - find his contact info here
Rep. Jim Carnes from Jefferson County - find his contact info here
Rep. David Wheeler from Jefferson County - find her contact info here
Rep. Rich Wingo from Tuscaloosa County - find his contact info here
Rep. Arnold Mooney from Shelby County - find his contact info here
Rep. Tracy Estes from Marion, Lamar, and Winston Counties - find his contact info here
Rep. Reed Ingram from Montgomery County - find his contact info here
Rep. Wes Kitchens from Blount, DeKalb, and Marshall Counties - find his contact info here
Rep. Ritchie Whorton from Jackson and Madison Counties - find his contact info here
Rep. Tim Wadsworth from Jefferson, Walker, and Winston Counties - find his contact info here
Rep. Howard Sanderford from Madison County - find his contact info here
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