Activists react after Alabama medical marijuana bill is signed into law

Governor Ivey signed the bill Monday.

Posted: May 17, 2021 9:23 PM
Updated: May 18, 2021 2:09 PM

Medical marijuana is now legal in Alabama. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law Monday. 

In a matter of months, cannabis products could be available to those who qualify. 

For activists like Melissa Mullins, she has been lobbying for this issue for nearly three years. She has chronic pain, her husband has epilepsy, and her daughter is on the autism spectrum. All three may qualify under the new law. 

When she heard about the governor's signature, she was relieved. 

I'm really, really, really thankful for that," Mullins said. 

Mullins is not the only Alabamian celebrating the signature.

Farrah Christopher never imagined Alabama would pass this type of legislation.

"This will be a natural alternative like I said and this is just a big day for Alabama," Christopher said. 

She suffers from PTSD and said she has yet to find a medication that truly works for her without harsh side-effects. 

Under this law, doctors with additional licensing can recommend products to patients, as long as there is medical proof of their symptoms or condition and other methods have not worked.

"So medical cannabis will not be recommended or prescribed as the first, second, or even third therapy probably," Dr. Jerzy Szaflarski said. 

Dr. Jerzey Szaflarksi is a professor at UAB and has studied CBD oil. He believes this will positively affect a large group of patients suffering.

While he said it is possible for people to abuse the new law, he believes it is unlikely.

"The chance of being addicted to cannabis is lower than the chance of being addicted to alcohol or the chance of being addicted to opioid medications that physicians prescribe on a daily," Szaflarksi said. "So the physician and the patient will have to monitor that."

He said there are requirements for checkups to ensure the treatment is working. In addition, patients who receive a medical cannabis card will not be able to buy products that can be smoked or vapes. 

Instead, they can buy tablets, capsules, gel cubes, and other forms of medical marijuana. 

For Mullins, she thinks about how her husband, who takes several medications for Epilepsy, can't enjoy everyday life. 

Now, her family has hope. 

"That was the whole point of the bill, was to give people an option that do not respond to pharmaceuticals," She said. 

It will be up to each doctor whether or not they want to become licensed to recommend a cannabis card. 

The law creates an oversight commission that will oversee everything from cultivating the plants to dispensing the drug. 

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