By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
Alabama will now allow medical marijuana usage for patients with specific conditions.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday signed Senate Bill 46, which outlines the usage of medical marijuana along with its regulation and distribution.
“Signing SB46 is an important first step,” Ivey said in a written statement. “I would like to again thank Sen. Tim Melson and Rep. Mike Ball for their hard work over the last few years and their willingness to address the legitimate concerns.
“This is certainly a sensitive and emotional issue and something that is continually being studied. On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days.”
The law goes into effect immediately. It allows people with qualifying medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor. Conditions include cancer, a terminal illness, depression, epilepsy, panic disorder and chronic pain. Allowable forms of marijuana include pills, skin patches and creams but not smoking or vaping products.
However, Melson said he expects it to be another 12-15 months before there will be cannabis products in the state.
“We’ve got 12 to 15 months before this will be a product out there,” Melson told reporters Monday evening. “Maybe more to 15. We’ll have time to address anything with an amendment if things pop up that we haven’t thought of.”
After multiple years of the bill failing to pass the legislature, Melson said he thought it was a mixture of education and legislator’s personal stories that pushed the bill over the finish line.
“I think we just educated them as much as anything,” Melson said.
“As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama,” Ivey said.
This is the third session Melson, R-Florence, sponsored the bill. He previously said it could help about 240,000 Alabamians.