While Alabama lawmakers have been fighting this year to provide patients suffering from severe seizure disorders with permission to use non-intoxicating cannabis oil, it appears the end result of their efforts will make federal drug traffickers out of families who need it the most.
Regardless of the potential legal woes associated with the bill that has been deemed “Leni’s Law,” both chambers of the state legislature have approved the bill, sending it to the desk of Governor Robert Bentley for a signature.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 95-to-4, with the Senate voting 29-to-3, in favor of legislation aimed at giving patients with seizures and other debilitating conditions the freedom to possess low-THC cannabis oil in the state of Alabama without fear of prosecution.
The bill introduced earlier this year by State Representative Mike Ball is intended to expand on Carly’s Law—approved in 2015—which allows specific patients to participate in a cannabis oil study overseen by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The problem with the existing law is not every patient qualifies for participation.
Leni’s Law was designed to pick up where Carly’s Law left off by decriminalizing the possession of cannabidiol for families with kids suffering from seizure disorders. However, because this pseudo medical marijuana law does not come with a cultivation and distribution provision, it would force families to smuggle cannabis oil in from a legal state—putting them in a position to be prosecuted on federal drug trafficking charges.
Similar legislation was approved last year in Georgia, which prompted state lawmakers to try to remedy the situation in 2016 by introducing legislation that would allow some restricted cultivation and distribution. However, while additional patients ended up gaining permission to become drug smugglers, no cannabis products can be obtained in the state.
Unfortunately, once a patient receives approval from the state to utilize these types of decriminalization programs, families are then forced to risk smuggling a Schedule I controlled substance across state lines. Since Uncle Sam considers any material derived from the cannabis plant a Schedule I controlled substance, transporting CBD oil—a medicine with no psychoactive effects—across state borders can bring the heat of federal drug agents.
Still, lawmakers believe Alabama's bill goes far enough to provide some relief for those patients truly suffering from seizure disorders.
"This is an opportunity to give some sunlight to families," said Senator Paul Sanford, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. "They don't want to feel like criminals, but they know they need to try something like this."
There is no word on whether Governor Bentley will sign the bill into law.
(Photo Courtesy of The CPC)