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Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition/Facebook
Co-Presidents Ron Crumpton, left, and Chris Butts of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition

Eighteen states now allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and a movement is afoot in Alabama to make it the 19th. Next Wednesday, November 14, a public hearing will be held in the Alabama State House on the medicinal use of cannabis.

Rep. Jim McClendon of Springville, who chairs the House Health Committee, said the hearing won’t be specifically about House Bill 2, a bill that will be before the January session of the Legislature which would legalize medical marijuana. The hearing is, however, a chance for medicinal cannabis proponents to educate legislators about the medical benefits of the herb.

Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition/Facebook
Ron Crumpton, left, and the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition (AMMJC) travels the state attending public events and drumming up support for medical marijuana. This shot was taken at the 2012 Boll Weevil Festival in Enterprise.

Years of hard work by the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition (AMMJC) is starting to pay off.

House Bill 2, The Alabama Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights Act, is scheduled for a pre-session meeting before the Alabama House Health Committee next month, with experts on medicinal cannabis invited to speak.

“Rep. McClendon is having a meeting of the Health Committee to hear proponents and opponents of Medical Marijuana, November 14, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. in the Joint Briefing Room,” Committee Clerk Mary Ruth Davis emailed bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd on Tuesday.
According to Ron Crumpton, co-president of AMMJC, Rep. McClendon told Rep. Todd that testimony on HB 2 will not be limited unless it gets redundant.

Graphic: AMMJC

​When my sister in Alabama suffers severe nausea due to a major stroke she had last year, she’s not allowed to use the most effective medication. In fact, if she did that, she could be put in jail.

You see, Lynda can’t use medical marijuana — even though it works better than any of the harsh pharmaceuticals her doctor prescribes — because it’s very much against the law in Alabama.
That could all be changing soon, thanks to the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition (AMMJC), which, just two months after its founding, on Thursday announced that the Alabama Medical Marijuana Patient’s Rights Act will be introduced in the next session of the Alabama Legislature.

Graphic: AMMJC

​Some folks just won’t take me seriously when I tell them that Alabama stands a good chance to become the first state in the Deep South to legalize medical marijuana. I can only conclude they are so skeptical because they don’t realize how determined — and, OK, I’ll say it —  how stubborn Alabama people can be. (Yes, I grew up there.)

On Saturday I got to meet meet with the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition at their very first gathering, held at beautiful Smith Lake Park near Cullman. I came out of that meeting more convinced than ever that the Heart of Dixie is going to surprise a lot of political observers by recognizing the rights of medical cannabis patients, and that this will happen a lot sooner than many people expect.
The reason for this seemingly unlikely scenario is what could be described as an alliance on this issue between liberal-leaning Democrats and libertarian Republicans, two groups which can agree that the government should allow seriously ill medicinal cannabis patients to use the doctor-recommended medicine which works best for them.