Medical cannabis legislation was first introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives two decades ago. Eight years ago, it was the laughingstock of the lower chamber. Now, a medical cannabis bill has supermajority support.
After a nearly 10-hour filibuster Tuesday, House lawmakers reconvened Thursday and considered several floor amendments before passing the Senate-originated bill, 68-34, which would allow registered patients diagnosed with qualifying conditions to access cannabis. The legislation returned to the Senate for final consideration Thursday night, when the upper chamber voted, 20-9, to concur with the House changes.
The legislation, Senate Bill 46, now heads to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. In a statement from Ivey’s office Thursday night, press secretary Gina Maiola said the governor looks forward to thoroughly reviewing the bill and providing the diligence it deserves, but did not say whether she would sign it.
If Ivey provides the ink, Alabama will become the 37th medical cannabis state, joining the likes of nearby Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to reform organization Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
“Passing the compassion act will allow seriously ill patients to finally get the relief they deserve,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at MPP.