Sen. Bobby Singleton: “This is the right time to legalize medical marijuana”

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Amidst reports that his Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act (SB326) may never make it to the House floor, bill sponsor Senator Bobby Singleton said this morning, “I’m optimistic. We’re early in this process – just halfway through this session – and there’s a process for these things.”

In an interview with Alabama Today, Senator Singleton said reports that Rules Committee Chairman Senator Jabo Waggoner called the bill “dead” didn’t diminish his resolve for getting the legislation passed this session.

“I respect the Senator and his position – and he may vote against the bill – but we’ll be asking his committee to give the bill consideration.”

Sen. Singleton also said that he would consider other options for advancing the bill, including a constitutional amendment. “I’m all for the people’s right to vote. It’s entirely possible that we’ll put it before the people and let them have their say.”

The Medical Marijuana Patient Safe Access Act would allow patients with one of 25 “serious medical conditions” to be prescribed marijuana by a qualifying physician. Singleton says he introduced the bill after hearing from constituents who were obtaining marijuana illegally in order to manage chronic pain.

The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a public hearing on the bill for this Wednesday, but canceled the public comment period at the last minute. Instead, the committee issued a favorable report on the bill by a 4-3 vote.

Reports by AL.com suggest that the legislation crossed that hurdle because several Republican members weren’t in attendance on Wednesday: Arthur Orr, Greg Reed and Tom Whatley were absent and Sen. Greg Albritton declined to vote.

During the meeting, Sen. Phil Williams raised concerns that the bill would encourage dependency or addiction to other illegal drugs.

“I’ve worked with a lot of messed up kids,” he said. “All of those who were addicts never intended to become addicts. But in all cases, marijuana was the gateway drug that led them down that path. I’ve seen too many devastated lives to give my support to this bill.”

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