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Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition

By Ron Crumpton
A few weeks ago, Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition had a picnic at Rhodes Ferry Park in Decatur. As usual, I spoke to many patients. There was one story that really got to me.
I met a man who had just happened by on his bicycle, saw the AMMJC sign and decided to stop and talk. The man had been diagnosed with cervical spine disease; due to this, he suffered from seizures, and was no longer able to work.
He had been turned down for disability, and was waiting for his appeal. The man told me that he had no home to call his own, he was staying with friends when he could, and on the streets when he could not.
As we talked, I learned that his physical problems were not the only challenges this man had to face. He had been diagnosed as being manic-depressive with suicidal tendencies, after his four-year-old son was murdered in 2002.
He told me that he suffered from allergic reactions to codeine, and was unable to take many pain medications. Most of the other medications that he was taking for muscle spasms, appetite, sleep, depression and seizures made him ill, and to make things worse, years of taking these medications had damaged the lining of his stomach, caused him to develop a tumor and a hernia.

The Alabama House Health Committee will hear testimony about medical marijuana on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the Alabama State House.

The hearing won’t specifically address House Bill 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in the state, according to bill sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Jefferson County), who sponsors the legislation.

“I have seen a lot of people die a miserable death and some benefited from the use of marijuana,” Todd said, reports Bill Britt at the Alabama Political Reporter. “I also believe that it can be very beneficial for people who suffer from cancer and migraines.”

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.

Hal Yeager/The Birmingham News
CLUELESS! Rep. Jim McClendon, chairman of the Alabama House Health Committee, called constituent emails “harassment”

Health Committee Chairman Unwilling To Read Citizen Emails

Ah, representative democracy. When citizens have concerns, they contact their elected representatives, right? Right?? One Alabama legislator apparently could use a basic civics lesson; it seems Republican Rep. Jim McClendon has forgotten for whom he works. On Thursday morning, he sent an email message to constituents, colleagues and newspapers statewide accusing medical marijuana lobbyists of “harassment.”

McClendon, chairman of the Alabama House Committee on Health, apparently felt quite put upon by the emails sent by members and supporters of the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, a group fighting for safe access for medicinal cannabis patients in the Heart of Dixie.

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.

Alabama Republican Party
Rep. K.L. Brown’s sister used cannabis medicinally to control her pain and nausea before she died of breast cancer 25 years ago

​An Alabama legislator is going forward with his bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and he expects to pre-file the legislation within a week.

Rep. K.L. Brown (R-Jacksonville) said on Wednesday that he had submitted the bill Monday to the state’s Legislative Reference Service, reports Patrick McCreless at The Anniston Star. Lawmakers submit their legislation to that department before filing it in the Legislature.
Brown said it should be about a week before he gets the revised bill back from the Legislative Reference Service.
“Hopefully I’ll have it in a week and get it filed,” he said.
Brown’s sister used cannabis medicinally to control her pain and nausea before she died of breast cancer 25 years ago, and the lawmaker said he sees the measure as a way to help many Alabamians who are in similar situations.
Rep. Brown emphasized that his bill is in no way part of an effort to legalize marijuana completely in Alabama.

The Weed Blog

​An Alabama lawmaker said on Friday that he will sponsor a bill during the 2012 session of the Legislature to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Rep. K.L. Brown (R-Jacksonville) said his sister used medicinal cannabis 25 years ago to ease the suffering of her breast cancer, reports Patrick McCreless at The Anniston Star. According to Brown, the aim of his legislation is to provide similar relief to other chronically ill Alabama patients.
“My sister used it very successfully to control her nausea and pain,” Brown said. “I think the time has come for the state to consider medical marijuana.”
Brown, who said he had already met with state health department officials to consider their potential role if the bill is passed, said he plans to pre-file the bill by November. He will soon meet with other lawmakers to discuss the legislation.

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.

Photo: AMMJC
Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition Co-President Ron Crumpton, right, is interviewed by newspaper reporter Jason Bacaj of The Anniston Star.

​State Lawmaker: ‘Good Possibility’ He Will Sponsor A Medical Marijuana Bill In Alabama Legislature
Did you know that the Heart of Dixie stands an excellent chance to become the first medical marijuana state in the Deep South?
The newest Alabama group working to allow marijuana as medicine is taking its message to the people with a series of picnic-style meetings across the state. The Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition (AMMJC) group’s second event, was held Saturday in Jacksonville at Germania Springs Park.

A crowd that grew to close to 70 people was on hand for the picnic, including a state lawmaker who said there is a “good possibility” that he will sponsor a medical marijuana bill in the Alabama Legislature next year.

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.
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