Gov. Kay Ivey has signed a bill related to medical marijuana but it stops short of legalizing the substance for those with medical needs.
The bill signed Monday by Ivey creates a 15-member Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to study the effects of medical marijuana. It also renews Carly’s law, which allows children with seizures to legally use cannabis oil.
The commission is charged with studying the issue in order for a medical marijuana bill to be introduced in the 2020 legislative session.
Members of the commission will include physicians with certain specialties, including neurology, physical pain management, oncology and psychiatry. Appointees will be made by the governor, Senate president pro tem and House speaker and would include a pharmacist, a mental health/substance abuse specialist and two members representing agricultural interests.
Among other tasks, the commission would be charged with creating an application form for a medical cannabis card and establishing a patient registry that would be used by doctors.
Establishment of the commission was a compromise measure for a bill by Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence that would have legalized medical marijuana for those with qualifying conditions. Melson’s bill passed the Senate but stalled after encountering stiff opposition in the House.
The bill would have allowed a doctor to recommend the use of cannabis to treat a variety of conditions, including autism spectrum disorder; epilepsy; cancer; degenerative or pervasive neurological disorders; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; multiple sclerosis; muscle disorders; opioid addiction; pain syndromes or pain associated with other medical conditions; and post traumatic stress disorder. Doctors recommending medical cannabis would be required to receive 10 hours of annual training in cannabis treatment.
Thirty-three states currently have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.