A bill allowing medical marijuana to be used in the State of Alabama has passed the Senate and was before the House this week and Marshall County’s legislative delegation split on it.

Rep. Kerry Rich said he planned to vote yes for medical marijuana while Rep. Wes Kitchens plans to vote no. Sen. Clay Scofield voted no. 

Each man explained the reasoning behind their stance:

Rep. Rich

Rep. Rich said he has given it a lot of thought and done a lot of research. And he has concluded that he will vote to allow medical marijuana in Alabama.

“I have read the bill thoroughly,” he said. “There won’t be an smoking marijuana in this bill. it won’t be allowed. It will have to be in pill or gummy form.

“There’s going to be strict control on how you can get it,” Rep. Rich continued. “It is for chronic pain and will be prescribed just like a doctor prescribing an antibiotic.”

Rep. Rich said marijuana is not as addictive as opioids.

“The problem with opioids is you might be prescribed them after surgery for example,” Rep. Rich said. “They say you can take them up to 30 days without significant impact. But maybe you like what they are doing for you and you want to keep taking them. That leads to addiction.”

He said medical marijuana “will be prescribed for chronic pain.” Rep. Rich said he has talked to someone who shared with him that medical marijuana was the only thing that relieved his chronic pain.

“Dr. Melson, the state senator who sponsored this bill, tied things down pretty good,” Rep. Rich said. “It seems like this is worth doing.”

Rep. Rich said he would never vote for recreational marijuana.

“That is an entirely different deal,” he said.

Rep. Kitchens

“I am a no vote and I can give you some reasons,” Rep. Kitchens said. “We already have laws dealing with the use of CBD products, Carly’s Law and Leni’s law. I stand firm on getting the medical benefits from the plant without the high.”

He said he’d promised during his campaign not to approve marijuana and was sticking with it.

“Another major issue is that our chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Steve Marshall from right here in Marshall County, offered a handful of amendments to strengthen the medical marijuana bill. Not all were accepted by the sponsor.

“One I carried was zero tolerance for driving under the influence of THC. The sponsor did not accept that amendment.

“It leaves an open-ended problem if someone does drive under the influence of THC. Michigan found 51 percent of those using medical marijuana admitted driving under the influence. That’s a major holdup for me.

“We had amendments from the AG that could strengthen the bill but they were not accepted. I cannot get behind the bill the way it is written,” Rep. Kitchens said.

Sen. Scofield

“I voted no on it,” Sen. Scofield said. “My issues with are the same concerns as the attorney general and law enforcement. At the end of the day, the federal government still considers this a controlled substance. I think the difference in federal and state law is going to cause all kinds of problems. It is enough to be worrisome.”

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