Alabama medical marijuana law may change to include more illnesses

A newly proposed bill in Alabama may allow a broader use of medical marijuana. People who use medical marijuana may still be subject to drug charges.

From Colorado's legalizing recreational marijuana in some jurisdictions to other states' allowing medical marijuana under restricted conditions, numerous states across the country have legalized marijuana in some form or other. Legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes has been an often-debated topic throughout recent years, including in Alabama.

The subject of medical marijuana has recently come up in Alabama legislation, states International Business Times. A bill that would make medical marijuana legally available to Alabama residents, called the Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act, is going through to the Senate to consider. Currently, the state allows people suffering from seizures to use an extract of marijuana with low amounts of THC, the chemical that produces a high. The new bill would introduce a more extensive list of medical conditions that may be benefited by the use of marijuana.

How can medical marijuana help those with medical conditions?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most of the medical marijuana people use is much the same as street marijuana. Some medical professionals, as well as those who use the drug, say that it is effective in treating pain, nausea and inflammation. There may even be evidence that marijuana kills certain types of cancer cells. The low-THC oils derived from special strains have been proven to effectively treat some types of severe childhood epilepsy, but these oils may not be preferred by some marijuana users who appreciate the intoxicating effects of traditional marijuana.

Any time a controversial law is newly passed, there is the risk of some people misunderstanding or misinterpreting the rules. This may include law enforcement officers. People in Massachusetts had difficulties when medical marijuana laws were passed in their state, according to the Boston Globe. Many were fined or arrested for possessing marijuana even when they had doctors' statements approving the use of medical marijuana. Part of the problem was the lack of standardized physician approval forms, but in other cases it seemed that police were not clear on what was permissible.

Drug penalties in Alabama

According to NORML, marijuana penalties in Alabama are severe. The possession of one ounce of the drug is a misdemeanor charge that may result in up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine. Selling marijuana is a felony, potentially punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. The consequences become even more severe for more serious charges.

It can be easy to misunderstand the laws regarding medical marijuana, particularly if the law is new and there are differing laws for other states. It may be possible to be charged with a crime even if you have a prescription for medicinal marijuana from another state or believe you are obeying the law. If you are facing drug charges, it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

Keywords: drug crime, medical marijuana, penalties