A bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana for the treatment of 15 conditions has been filed at the Alabama State House.

SB 165 would set up a medical marijuana program for the state under legislation titled the Compassion Act. It would establish an Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission tasked with overseeing quality standards from seed to sale and issuing medical marijuana cards to qualifying patients.

The AMCC would also have the power to issue licenses for cultivating, processing, dispensing, transporting, and testing of medical cannabis. The bill also would authorize the Department of Agriculture and Industries to regulate the cultivation of cannabis for medical use, establish sales taxes, and create the Medical Cannabis Research Consortium to provide grants for research.

Sen. Tim Melson, a Republican who has served in the State Senate since 2015, filed the bill.

It sets out a number of qualifying conditions: anxiety, autism, cancer-related pain and nausea, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, persistent nausea, PTSD, sleep disorder, spasticity associated with a motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain conditions that conventional treatment cannot ease.

A Medical Cannabis Appeal Panel would be able to approve further conditions in future. It would allow forms including pills, oils, lozenges, and patches, but smoking and vaping would not be permitted.

Alabama is one of the few states in which marijuana remains fully illegal and criminalized. Northern neighbour Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho are the only other states in which marijuana is totally outlawed and possession is treated as a criminal offense.

There will be opposition to the attempt to legalize medical marijuana, as certain lawmakers and church leaders have been vocal in combating it. In January, Attorney General Steve Marshall announced his opposition to medical marijuana too.

Last year, Alabama nearly passed medical marijuana legislation, but the bill ultimately did not receive enough support in the House of Representatives. However, an 18-member Alabama Medical Marijuana Study Commission was set up to develop legislation.

Melson was also behind last year’s bill. He remains a staunch supporter of legalization efforts, and he is clearly not giving up the fight.

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