Things are getting a confusing in Alabama, with a member of the committee overseeing medical marijuana in the state proclaiming that there is no such thing as medical marijuana.
Such is the existential dilemma presented to the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission by Stephen Taylor, a commission member and psychiatrist specializing in addiction and adolescents.
“If it hasn’t been validated as a medicine, we shouldn’t be calling it medical marijuana or medical cannabis,” Taylor said, as reported by the news site AL.com.
“And the idea that we would just put something out there and call it medicine for the people of our state to use when it really isn’t a legitimate medicine, that concerns me. That means that we are taking the chance at causing more harm than good. And that’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing.”
This promoted some head scratching from other committee members, as it was unclear what the medical cannabis commission should do if there wasn’t any medical cannabis to commission.
“What would you like to call it?,” asked committee chairman and Republican State Senator Tim Melson.
“Because I can show you studies where it helps, so let’s come up with a name that makes everybody happy because a name is a name. It doesn’t really matter… But I’m going to tell you that I want to find a way to get it to the people who need it and do it in a responsible way.”
In April, Alabama’s Senate approved Melson’s bill to legalize medical marijuana. However, opponents in the House mandated a commission to study the social effects of MMJ before the law goes into effect.
The group, a collection of lawmakers and representatives from medicine, law enforcement, addiction treatment, pharmacy, agriculture, and other fields, will make a recommendation to Legislature if they can ever agree on whether medical marijuana even exists.
The commission has heard from advocates of medical cannabis, including Alice Slocumb, who told the commission about her 37 year old son James Lovejoy, who had to move to Colorado in order to receive legal medical marijuana treatment for his congenital rheumatic spinal condition.
“There is no conventional treatment that really helped James at all. The only option given to him was strong, addictive pain killers, which he would not take,” Slocumb said.
“He still lives in Denver where he has his own CPA firm,” she continued. “James has a full life because of medical marijuana. But he can’t have that full life in Alabama.”
While opposing medical cannabis, Taylor referenced an advisory issued by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams in August about the dangers of marijuana. This warning was interpreted by some as part of an ideological push from the Trump administration against state-legalized cannabis.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will meet again in October.
Photo via Flickr user Brian Shambien