The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission held its second meeting in Montgomery on September 9. The composition of the commission changed at the beginning of the second meeting with the addition of five new members, bringing the total number of commissioners to 18.
The majority of the meeting centered on a presentation by Thomas Eden, a member of the commission and a partner at the law firm of Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP, who discussed the impacts that medical cannabis potentially could have in the workplace if Alabama adopts a medical cannabis regime. The presentation examined how employers in other states currently handle employment concerns surrounding medical cannabis cardholder employees. After the presentation, Sen. Tim Melson acknowledged that protecting employers will be at the forefront of any medical cannabis regime in Alabama; however, he expressed that the commission must strike the appropriate balance between protecting employers while also ensuring that appropriate patients are able to obtain medical cannabis. This viewpoint mirrors Sen. Melson’s overall statement that the purpose of the commission is to get medical cannabis in the hands of the people “who need it and to keep it out of the hands of people who don’t.”
Eden’s presentation reflects the reality that many in the state will be opposed to a medical cannabis regime, and that the reasons for the opposition will be varied. Sen. Melson and several other members of the commission expressed their beliefs that Alabama should have a medical cannabis regime because of its importance to the people of the state of Alabama.
Like the last meeting, two potential topics arose that the commission will have to address before the proposed legislation is due on December 1 — nomenclature of the product and research funding. As to the former issue, several members of the commission expressed serious concerns with calling cannabis products “medical marijuana.” These members voiced their worries that the use of this nomenclature could mislead youth that the product is harmless and fear that youth have the inability to appreciate the dangers of cannabis use at a young age. As to the latter issue, the commission addressed the opportunity for cannabis research to take place at the university level and noted that this issue needs to be discussed in future meetings.
At the next meeting, look for the commission to further discuss qualifying conditions, as Sen. Melson concluded by stating that the commission needs to consider other qualifying conditions besides terminal illnesses that could benefit from access to medical cannabis.
We plan to attend and report on the commission’s next meeting in Montgomery in October. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or would like any additional information in the meantime.