For the first time ever, a medical marijuana bill in Alabama has won a legislative committee vote. HB 207, the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act, was approved Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee. But even the bill's sponsor, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) has said the bill is unlikely to pass this year. The legislative session ends next week.
The bill is named after an Alabama man with a brain tumor that caused frequent seizures who fought to legalize medical marijuana. Phillips died at age 38 while attending the Drug Policy Alliance conference in New Orleans in 2007.
Under the bill, patients suffering from cancer and other serious ailments could, with a doctor's recommendation, possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and could grow their own medicine if they so chose. The bill would also allow for licensed dispensaries where patients could obtain their medicine. Patients would have to obtain a state-issued identification card.
Rep. Todd told the Montgomery Advertiser that with only five days left in the session, the bill was unlikely to move further this year. "I know this is not an easy bill to vote for," she said. "My intent is to help people who are hurting."
Alabama most likely won't see a medical marijuana law this year, but with the winning of the House committee vote, the movement has advanced further than ever in the Heart of Dixie.