By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A medical marijuana bill stalled Wednesday in the Alabama Senate under the threat of a filibuster.
Republican Sen. Tim Melson of Florence delayed a vote on his bill after a senator raised concerns, but said he expects to bring the bill back for a floor vote later this session.
Melson, an anesthesiologist who now does research, said medical marijuana can offer help to patients with certain debilitating conditions without the risk of opioid addiction.
“We just want to give people with chronic problems a chance to get some relief in their life,” Melson said.
The bill would set up a state oversight commission and a process for prescribing marijuana for people with certain medical conditions. Patients with a valid medical cannabis card could not be charged with the crime of marijuana possession.
Republican Sen. Larry Stutts, an obstetrician from Tuscumbia, opposed the bill. He raised various concerns, including the adequacy and validity of the research.
“I guess what I’m wanting you to convince me of is this is not a snake-oil salesman out of the back of a covered wagon saying this cures everything,” Stutts said.
Stutts also raised concerns about training.
“How are you going to institute this into mainline medical practice when there is a whole generation of physicians that had no training?” Stutts said.
Melson replied that many doctors didn’t know how to use robots in surgery when they graduated from medical school but now regularly do.
Melson said that he and Stutts have worked together as medical doctors over the years and he provided epidurals for Stutts’ patients. But he said the two have a disagreement about this issue.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on a 6-2 vote last month.
Melson said he believes he has the votes to approve the bill when it returns to the Senate floor.