Alabama

Alabama: Congressman Running For Sessions’s Senate Seat Backs Medical Cannabis

Congressman Mo Brooks

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a fierce opponent against states to set their own cannabis laws without federal interference, but new Alabama Senate seat hopeful endorses cannabis legislation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A leading candidate for Sessions' former seat representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate, Congressman Mo Brooks (R), is making support for cannabis law reform an important part of his platform.

“Medical cannabis should be treated like any other treatment that saves lives or eases pain and symptoms. In a land of freedom and liberty, that decision is best kept between a doctor and a patient,” Congressman Brooks said at a press conference. “That is what I believe. That is how I will vote in the Senate. That is how I have voted in the House.”

Alabama: City of Mobile Cannabis Decriminalization Proposal Withdrawn by Mayor

Mobile, Alabama

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Mobile, Alabama Mayor Sandy Stimpson, the sponsor of a City Ordinance that would have decriminalized several minor cannabis offenses in the City of Mobile, withdrew his proposal yesterday. The ordinance, which would have lessened penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis by issuing a citation instead of an arrest, appears to have stalled in the City of Mobile.

Several cities across the country have passed similar ordinances to bypass the arrest process for cannabis including Detroit, Chicago, and Columbia, MO.

Alabama: Colbert County Agents Bust Medical Grade Marijuana Grower

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Law enforcement agents in Colbert County, Alabama recently made a significant bust, finding what they say is some of the highest grade marijuana they have seen.

“We’ve been getting information over the years, and we just got enough information to obtain a search warrant,” stated Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson.

Sheriff Williamson said his department and the Colbert County Drug Task Force have worked this case a long time.

The agents found 161 medical grade marijuana plants inside an old mobile home on LaGrange Mountain. Williamson said they are finding more and more grow operations moving indoors.

“It makes it more of a challenge for us because you can’t see what they’ve got inside,” Williamson explained. “And that’s what a lot of people are doing, moving them inside.”

Williamson said the suspected grower fully cooperated with agents, even helping them disassemble the grow house.

With more operations expected, Williamson said they will continue the fight. “Something you will probably never completely do away with,” said Williamson. “But we can do our best to try and slow it down.”

Sheriff Williamson said a single seed for the type of marijuana which was found runs about $70.

Drug agents also found various illegal prescription pills and guns on the property.

Alabama: Man Serving Life In Prison For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

While the cannabis industry proceeds merrily along its profit-strewn path to the mainstream, a man in Alabama last year got sentenced to life in prison for selling the stuff.

It makes a big difference, you see, if you are a minority male in the Deep South selling marijuana, or if you are a monied entrepreneur in, say, Washington state or Colorado doing the same thing. If you were of the latter class and geography, you'd get a license from the state allowing you to carry on your business; if you were of the former, you'd get thrown in a cage until you die.

Houston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Conaway in February 2015 sentenced 39-year-old Richard Bolden of Dothan, Alabama, to life in prison for "trafficking marijuana." He gave Bolden an additional eight years for a felony first-degree bail jumping charge, to be served consecutively (not concurrently) with the life sentence, reports Matt Elofson at the Dothan Eagle.

Alabama: Governor Signs Leni's Law, Increasing Access To Medical Cannabis Oil

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Patients in Alabama will have greater access to medical cannabis oil after Governor Robert Bentley on Wednesday signed HB 61, also know as Leni's Law, as passed by the Alabama Legislature.

Gov. Bentley's signature decriminalizes possession of medical marijuana CBD oil with THC content of up to 3 percent. The bill is named for a four-year-old girl whose family moved to Oregon to legally access cannabidiol cannabis oil to treat her severe epilepsy, and was hailed as a victory by Leni's mother, Amy Young, reports Paul Gattis at Al.com.

"We are incredibly grateful to the state of Alabama for giving families like ours the opportunity to find relief from life altering and debilitating conditions, and hope for a better quality of life," Young told Hemp News Wednesday afternoon. "Access to medical treatment shouldn't be determined by your zip code."

"I've got this smile glued to my face," said Young, who revealed she'd already received calls from lawmakers in Iowa, South Dakota and Tennessee since the Leni's Law was signed.

Alabama: Four Auburn Football Players Arrested For Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Four Auburn University football players were arrested Saturday night on misdemeanor marijuana charges, according to police records.

Sophomores Carlton Davis III, Byron Cowart, Jeremiah Dinson and Ryan Davis face second-degree misdemeanor marijuana possession charges after being arrested by Auburn police about 11 p.m. Saturday night, reports Mark Schlabach at ESPN.

"I'm aware of the situation and we will handle the matter appropriately," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in a concise statement.

Second degree marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama, carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine, reports Wesley Sinor at Al.com.

Carlton Dabvis, a 6'1", 190-pound cornerback from Miami, Florida, is an expected starter in Auburn's secondary for the coming season. He was a freshman All-American after totaling 56 tackles and three interceptions last year.

Cowart, of Seffner, Florida, was ranked the top prospect in the 2015 ESPN 300. He struggled as a freshman last season, finishing with six tackles and playing as a reserve defensive lineman.

Alabama: Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Oil Bill

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill that will decriminalize medicinal marijuana oil has passed a vote in the Alabama legislature.

On Wednesday, senators voted 29-3 for the bill, which would legalize possession of cannabidiol.

Bill sponsor Rep. Paul Sanford says he hopes CBD oil access will provide a little “sunlight” to families struggling with debilitating medical conditions.

Republican Sen. Phil Williams was one of the three voting against the bill, saying current evidence on the effects of CBD oils is too “experimental” and “anecdotal.”

The bill is nicknamed “Leni’s Law” after a young girl with a severe epileptic condition. Leni Young’s family left the state for Oregon, where they can legally access CBD oil.

A previous version of the bill passed the House earlier this month. Sanford’s substitute version will now return to the House for a vote.

U.S.: Supreme Court Won't Review Case Of 76-year-old Man Serving Life For Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it won't hear the appeal of Lee Carroll Brooker, a 76-year-old man from Alabama who is serving a life sentence in prison for his 2014 conviction for possession of a few pounds of marijuana.

The Supreme Court made no comment when denying review of Brooker's case. In a Friday conference, the court had considered whether to take up the case.

Brooker's attorneys argued that the sentence based on his habitual offender status violates the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

Some people, including Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, said Brooker got a raw deal when he was sentenced as a habitual offender. Moore called Brooker's sentence "excessive and unjustified" in a special writing when his court rejected Brooker's appeal last year.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a national sentencing reform group, also had filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Brooker asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The Alabama Attorney General's office said that Brooker had served time for drug smuggling between Florida and Alaska, and that he had served time for a spree of armed robberies with several different victims. The spree ended with him firing a sawed-off shotgun at one person and threatening to shoot two police officers.

Alabama: Democratic Senate Nominee Favors Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

While the pace of cannabis law reform may sometimes seem far too slow, we are making major progress. One way that I know this, is by watching my home state of Alabama, the "Heart of Dixie," rightly considered one of the most conservative states in the union.

You may be asking, "Progress? What progress?" Well, for the first time in history, as far as we've been able to determine, the 2016 Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Alabama favors marijuana legalization.

"Current marijuana policy in Alabama, and across America, lacks reason, intelligence and sanity," said Democratic Senate nominee Ron Crumpton, a native of Wilsonville, Alabama. "It creates criminal enterprises, puts our children in unnecessary danger and clogs our courts and prisons with people who would be considered normal productive members of society, but because they choose to use marijuana as opposed to alcohol, they are considered criminal."

It is mighty refreshing to see a major party nominee for Senator with such an enlightened viewpoint -- and doubly so, since Crumpton is from the Deep South.

"The prohibition of marijuana promotes violence, costs millions of dollars in law enforcement/corrections, and violates the constitutional rights of Americans," Crumpton said. "Using marijuana does not present a viable danger to anyone. Therefore, denying the use of marijuana, or arresting someone for the use of marijuana is not only a violation of our personal rights and liberties… it is asinine."

Washington, DC: Alabama Senator Calls Marijuana Legalization A "Disturbance"

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

At a Senate discussion yesterday of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) denounced marijuana legalization. The Trump supporter referred to legislation as a "disturbance" for states that have reformed their marijuana laws, and claimed that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

While most lawmakers were assembled to discuss the current, growing epidemic of opioid use and heroin addiction in the US, Sen. Sessions was more into criticizing the Obama administration and its permissive stance on cannabis legalization, according to the online Congressional record.

“You have to have leadership from Washington. You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process", he said. "It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal.”

The "disturbance" has led to a reduced number of DUIs, a decrease in violent crimes, and lower prison populations in states that have adopted legalization.

Early last week, Sen. Sessions became the first sitting senator to endorse Donald Trump for president of the USA during a Republican rally. "At this time in American history we need to make America great again," he told the crowd, while sporting a Trump ball cap bearing that slogan.

Alabama: Bill Filed To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill filed by Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) in the Alabama House would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Currently, that "offense" would get you a Class A misdemeanor in the Heart of Dixie, punishable by jail time and fines.

HB 257, sponsored by Rep. Todd, would make possession of an ounce or under simply a ticketable offense, reports Adam Powell at Alabama Today. "Possession charges for people clog up a lot of our court services," Todd said. "This would help eliminate some of that bottleneck."

The bill would lower penalties for recreational cannabis consumers, and would, Todd said, create much-needed revenue for the state, since offenders are forced to pay tickets.

"I believe it's safer than alcohol," Rep. Todd said. "If people could take their emotions out of it, I think most people would agree with me."

Todd said she'd spoken with law enforcement officials, and most are supportive, specifically because the measure would remove a lot of work processing and jailing nonviolent marijuana offenders. She does expect opposition, however, from district attorneys, she said.

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Advocates Rally At Capitol

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Protesters gathered at the State House in the Capitol last week, asking lawmakers to allow safe access to medical marijuana.

"You can't spell healthcare without THC!" said protester Faye Medlock of the Medical Cannabis Advocates of Alabama, reports Caitlin Cline at Alabama News. "So many people that this could help, and the government is hindering," said Medlock, who added cannabis helps her fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.

Marijuana is illegal for any purpose in Alabama, except for the narrow exception of Carly's Law, under which only the UAB Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Alabama are allowed to administer CBD oil (cannabidiol is a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana) to research patients.

Getting the entire plant legalized for medicinal use is the goal of the Medical Cannabis Advocates. It's something that protester Regina King Vinzant said is worth fighting for, for her health.

"I have HIV; it helps me to eat," Vinzant said. "I have a brain mass; I have some heart problems. I have several different things that I find out it will help with."

The Medical Cannabis Advocates of Alabama hope to break the stigma that surrounds cannabis usage in the state; they argue that it is much less dangerous than other substances, including legal ones, and the evidence backs them up.

Alabama: Epileptic Mom Who Used Medical Marijuana Raising Funds To Fight Charges

KarieDarovitzWillBishopAlabama[GrantBlankenship]

Mother Faces Up To 10 Years In Prison For Using Marijuana While Pregnant Rather Than Big Pharma Drug Which Causes Birth Defects

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Alabama mother who faces up to 10 years in prison after using marijuana to treat her seizures while pregnant has started a funding campaign for her criminal defense.

Katie Darovitz, 25, of Russell County, suffers from epilepsy severe enough to keep her from driving or holding a job, reports Amy Yurkanin at Al.com. When she learned she was pregnant, she stopped taking her anti-epilepsy drugs -- which have been linked to birth defects -- and instead began using marijuana to prevent seizures.

For making the safest decision for her unborn child, she was arrested a couple of weeks after the December 2014 birth of her son after they both tested positive for marijuana. Alabama is one of a handful of backwards states where mothers can be prosecuted for "exposing a child to illicit drugs" under the state's "chemical endangerment of a child" law, simply for using a harmless, non-toxic, even healthful herb.

Marijuana is the substance most often cited in indictments and arrest reports for women arrested for drug use during pregnancy in Alabama, according to analysis of almost 500 criminal cases by Al.com and ProPublica. Darovitz faces up to a decade in prison if convicted.

Alabama: Senate President Wants Medical Marijuana Debate

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Del Marsh, president pro tem of the Alabama Senate, on Friday said he would like to see the chamber at least debate the merits of a medical marijuana bill, one day after Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jabo Waggoner -- a gatekeeper through which bills make it to the floor -- said the bill was "bad legislation" for which Alabama was "not ready."

"I would like to get it to the floor for debate," said Marsh (R-Anniston), reports Bryan Lyman at the Montgomery Advertiser. "There's some good debate to be had on it. There are issues out there I think need to be discussed."

Marsh admitted that chances of passing the medical marijuana bill are low in the heavily Republican Alabama Senate, but he said he believed there are valid arguments to be made for medical marijuana.

"You have a lot of people many times who are prescribed prescription drugs that lead to addiction," Marsh said. "The argument is medical marijuana prevents that issue. My point is I think it should be open for debate."

Marsh suggested that the bill could make it the floor if there was "a gentleman's agreement not to take action except for discussion."

Alabama: Key Senator Blocks Medical Marijuana Bill; Says State 'Not Ready'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Medical marijuana may have been passed by an Alabama Senate committee this week, but a powerful politician quickly blocked the way for further progress, declaring the state is "not ready" for such legislation. The full membership of the Senate won't even get the chance to debate the bill unless he changes his mind.

Sen. Jabo Waggoner, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, displayed the arrogance of power in disregarding both the Senate Judiciary Committee, which on Wednesday approved the bill on a 4-3 vote, and popular opinion in the state.

"It is bad legislation," Waggoner said, ignoring both the scientific evidence of marijuana's medical effectiveness and the wishes of his own constituents. "We don't need that in Alabama."

A whopping 97 percent of more than 1,300 respondents to an online poll said the state should allow medicinal cannabis. More than a decade ago, back in 2004, 75 percent of respondents said medical marijuana should be legal in the Heart of Dixie, according to a Mobile Register/University of South Alabama survey.

Waggoner, a relic of the 20th Century and career politician who has served in the Alabama Legislature for 49 years, said he didn't think anything would change his mind about the medical marijuana bill this year.

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Bill Passed By Senate Committee

AlabamaMedicalMarijuanaPatientSafeAccessActPassesSenateJudiciaryCommittee[KathyDay]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday narrowly approved a bill to allow the medical use of marijuana.

Judiciary Committee members approved Senate Bill 326 -- the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act -- on a 4-3 vote.

"It's a great day for patients in Alabama," said Ron Crumpton of the Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP), which drafted the legislation. "Even if the bill doesn't go any further, this is progress.

"However, we expect the bill to go before the whole Senate next week," Crumpton told Hemp News Wednesday afternoon. "It looks like Hell may freeze over in Alabama."

Applause broke out from medical marijuana advocates who have unsuccessfully lobbied in Montgomery for years; one of those cheering was Tammy Collazo, who said she takes small amounts of cannabis to ease the pain of a brain tumor, reports the Associated Press.

The legislation now moves to the Alabama Senate floor, where political observers believe it faces rough going.

The bill would allow patients with serious medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, autism, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, and seizures, to buy or grow cannabis for medicinal use. Marijuana sales would be taxed, and revenue would be used to combat illegal drug trafficking.

Graphic: Kathy Day/Facebook

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act Filed In Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill which would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes has been filed in the Alabama Senate.

The bill, crafted by the Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP), was filed on Thursday as SB 326 by state Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), according to ASAP director Ron Crumpton.

The companion bill is set to be filed in the Alabama House on Monday by Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham), according to Crumpton.

"When passed, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act will create a system of safe and regulated access to marijuana for patients who have been diagnosed by a physician as having one of the specific medical conditions outlined in the legislation," Crumpton said.

Medical conditions included in this year’s legislation:

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Anorexia
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)/ Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
Autism
Bipolar disorder
Cachexia
Cancer
Cerebral palsy
Chronic depression
Chronic pain
Dystonia
Fibromyalgia
Gastrointestinal disorders, including, but not limited to, colitis, Crohn's disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Glaucoma
Lupus
Migraine
Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Parkinson’s disease

Alabama: Medical Marijuana Bill Gets Both House, Senate Sponsors

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

For the first time ever, the Alabama Medical Marijuana Safe Access Act will be sponsored in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. The companion bills are expected to be filed in the Alabama Senate and House on Tuesday, March 17.

Senator Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Representative John Rogers (D-Birmingham) have agreed to sponsor the bill in the 2015 legislative session, according to Ron Crumpton of the Alabama Safe Access Project (ASAP).

"ASAP would like to thank both Rep. Rogers and Sen. Singleton for their willingness to lead Alabama towards a future where patients receive the best in medical care," Crumpton told Hemp News Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. Singleton, who is sponsoring the bill in the Alabama Senate, is serving his third term. He has a degree in Criminal Justice from Alabama State University and a Juris Doctor from Miles College, and works as a consultant. He is a member of Greenleaf Missionary Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Alabama: Senator 'Tired Of These People,' Won't Release Medical Marijuana Survey

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An Alabama state senator this week proclaimed "I'm really tired of dealing with these people" when pressed to release a doctor survey he ordered, which was conducted by the state medical association.

Oddly, Senator Jim McClendon, who at the time he ordered the study was chair of the House Health Committee, repeatedly denied ever ordering the survey in a telephone interview this week, reports Edward Burch at ABC 33/40.

Senator McClendon, who perhaps should seek a less stressful form of employment than public servant, said he had received emails from medical marijuana proponents for the past two years about the missing survey.

"I'm really tired of dealing with these people and this issue," McClendon said.

Reporter Burch later spoke with Rep. Patricia Todd, who sponsored a bill during the last legislative session which would have legalized medical marijuana.

Rep. Todd confirmed that Sen. McClendon did issue the request for the medical marijuana survey.

"I was in (McClendon's) office one day and one of the government affairs people for the medical association was in there and we were talking about it, and he said, 'Oh yeah, we did the survey,'" Todd said.

Rep. Todd said the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) refused to give her a copy of the complete survey. She said she had submitted a list of questions to McClendon to be included on it.

Alabama: FDA Gives Approval For Marijuana Oil Study

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The federal Food and Drug Administration has given the University of Alabama at Birmingham the go-ahead to study the use of cannabidiol, a marijuana derivative, to treat seizures.

The university on Wednesday received FDA letters authorizing two studies, one for children and one for adults, according to UAB spokesman Bob Shepard, reports Kim Chandler at the Associated Press.

Parents of children with severe seizure disorders convinced the Alabama Legislature last year to pass a bill authorizing UAB's Department of Neurology to perform a study of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana.

Shepard said the FDA had requested some changes in the studies; those will go before a university review board next month, he said.

"It's hard to put in words the feelings you have as a dad with a daughter that could benefit from this," said Dustin Chandler. The legislation had become known as "Carly's Law" after Chandler's three-year-old daughter, who started having seizures at just eight weeks old.

Carly was eventually diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder CDKL5. Chandler, a police officer in Pelham, frequently appeared before the Legislature to advocate for the bill.

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