MONTGOMERY, AL -- On Wednesday, the Alabama House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on HB 642, the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. Prior to the hearings, members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care will hold a press conference at the Capitol.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Patricia Todd, would allow patients suffering from certain debilitating and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis to use and possess medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The bill would also allow for the licensing of centers where qualifying patients could safely access medical marijuana. The program would be administered by the Alabama Department of Health.
"I have known dozens of people with HIV who have benefited from using marijuana, and I believe this should be a medical option,” said bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd, (D-54, Birmingham). “I have seen many people I love experience severe pain and I know I would have done anything in my power to relieve it".
Patients, doctors, and advocates were ecstatic that the legislation, which they have been supporting for over nearly five years, is finally being taken up by Alabama legislators.
Currently, fourteen states, and the District of Columbia, have passed similar medical marijuana legislation allowing patients with certain debilitating conditions to use and possess medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
"As an adult with chronic pain, why is perfectly fine to take the prescriptions my doctor gives me to the point of addiction, but it illegal for me to use a substance the US government has been giving out medicinally to certain patients since the 70's?,” asked patient Christopher Butts of Cullman, AL. “Shouldn’t my doctor be able to recommend the best treatments for me? Doesn’t my family have the right to live without the fear of police arresting me for using medicine that helps?”
A 2004 poll administered by the Mobile Register/University of South Alabama found that 76% of Alabamians support allowing access to medical marijuana as recommended by a physician. And 2010 ABC News/Washington Post national poll found that 81% of those polled, including 68% of Conservatives and 72% of Republicans, think that doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to their patients.
Hundreds of local and national organizations support allowing physicians to recommend, and patients to access, medical marijuana for certain debilitating conditions, including The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Bar Association, and American Public Health Association.
“Alabama patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses today are criminals for using medical marijuana, while patients in New Jersey and thirteen other states are not,” said Loretta Nall, executive director of Alabamians for Compassionate Care, a group of patients, family members and community members calling for changes to the law. “If marijuana is good medicine for patients in 14 states and the District of Colombia, then it is good medicine for patients in Alabama and they should have safe access to it under their doctor’s care. It's time to pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in Alabama. This is a states rights issue and the patients and physicians in Alabama need protection.”
Alabamians for Compassionate Care
Loretta Nall: 256-625-9599
Gabriel Sayegh 646-335-2264