For some Americans, the mention of marijuana conjures images of young ne’er-do-wells passing around a hand-rolled cigarette and a family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos before falling into an idol stupor. Or they may have learned everything they know about marijuana from the 1936 film “Reefer Madness,” an exploitative cautionary tale of promising young students whose lives are ruined at their first puff on a marijuana cigarette.
These perceptions, while loosely rooted in truth, bear no resemblance to the intent of a medical marijuana bill working its way through the Alabama Legislature. The measure would legalize some forms of the active ingredient in marijuana for use to treat specific medical maladies, and would not legalize raw marijuana or anything that can be smoked or vaped.
The measure is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), a physician serving in the Alabama Legislature, and enjoys broad support in the medical community. The Lister Hill Center for Public Health Policy at UAB recently published the results of a survey of 450 Alabama physicians regarding the legalization of medical cannabis by the state of Alabama “if available by recommendation of a medical provider.” Only 26 percent of surveyed physicians opposed the legalization of medical cannabis.
However, 23 of the state’s 42 district attorneys signed a letter urging lawmakers to reject the bill, calling marijuana a dangerous gateway drug.
We believe that the state’s medical community has done its homework regarding medical uses of cannabis and have found that narrow use of byproducts produce benefits for sufferers of a constellation of conditions, and that most physicians believe the prescribed uses won’t send patients on a quest for a better “high.”