Last week, the Alabama Senate passed a bill legalizing limited medical use of marijuana. It's not the first time the Senate has done so. Twice now, Senators have given their approval to a medical marijuana bill, and twice it's died in the House. It's time for the House to pass the bill.

SB46 bill, informally titled the “Compassion Act,” would “provide civil and criminal protections to certain patients with a qualifying medical condition who have a valid medical cannabis card for the medical use of cannabis.” The bill also calls for the creation of a new state medical cannabis commission to oversee policy concerning the new cards, the creation of a patient registry, and the licensing and regulation of private businesses involved in the medical cannabis supply chain in Alabama.

The bill also describes which marijuana-derived consumables would be protected under the law, as well as those that wouldn’t. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), describes “medical cannabis” as “a medical grade product in the form of…[o]ral tablet, capsule, or tincture,” “[n]on-sugarcoated gelatinous cube, gelatinous rectangular cuboid, or lozenge in a cube or rectangular cuboid shape,” “[g]el, oil, cream, or other topical preparation,” as well as “Suppository,” “Transdermal patch,” “Nebulizer.,” and “Liquid or oil for administration using an inhaler.”

This is not your "gateway drug" demonized in the war on drugs.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the use of marijuana for two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. But researchers are also examining its effectiveness in treating nausea, pain, inflammation, cancer, seizures, eating disorders, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) was among the senators who recognize the impact medical marijuana could have on patients. "If you had been in our committee meetings, and seen the transformation these medications can bring about in little boys and girls as well as adults — people who were having seizures and were dramatically helped after receiving it — it’s really eye-opening," he said.

The bill is a long way away from legalizing pot for recreational use, as opponents fear. Even among those who get a prescription for medical marijuana, smoking the plant would still be illegal.

For the sake of patients who can be helped by this drug, it's time House members opened their eyes to how medical marijuana may help them. When it comes to SB46, we say: Pass it.

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