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The state of Alabama just got one step closer to legalizing medical marijuana. The bill passed the Senate judiciary committee.
Senator Tim Melson (R) from Florence introduced the bill two weeks ago, and it just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Melson, who is also a doctor, told WAAY 31, two years ago, he would have never done a bill like this, but after extensive research, he sees a lot of positives that could come from the legalization of medical marijuana.
Melson said his bill would allow people with extreme illnesses who've tried everything else an option of medical marijuana.
"I've seen the list of studies, dementia, crones, ALS, there is a whole list," said Melson.
Melson said people could only be prescribed medical marijuana after their doctors have tried all other medicines to help their patient. They would have to get a second opinion from a specialist and a medical marijuana card.
"We make sure we don't get in a situation with people over-prescribing. The bill is written very, very tight with real strict control," said Melson.
Currently, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana. Melson said he's looked at the impacts it's had in those states and how it's lessened the opioid crisis.
"Medicare statistics show that the states, as a group, have had over 3 million less prescriptions [collectively] per day for opioids being prescribed," said Melson.
Opponents fear this could lead to full on legalization in the state. Melson said that's not his intention. Some local voters support his bill.
"It could be very beneficial to people with medical illnesses who, again, could benefit," said Cassie Cannon. "It's something that needs to be monitored, so it doesn't get out of control."
Melson admits this is an uphill battle. In past years, the measure failed in the full Senate. He said he plans to have lawmakers from other states where medical marijuana is legal to come and talk to lawmakers about the benefits they've seen.
The Senate will vote on the bill within the next two weeks, according to Melson.