What’s SB 46?
On Could 17, 2021, Alabama grew to become the thirty seventh state to legalize medical marijuana. A 102-page invoice, SB 46 was authored by Republican Sen. Tim Melson who represents Alabama’s 1st District.
SB 46 represents historical past within the making. It legalizes using medical hashish for the next issues and sicknesses: autism spectrum dysfunction, cancer-related cachexia, Crohn’s illness, despair, epilepsy or situations inflicting seizures, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight reduction, panic dysfunction, Parkinson’s illness, post-traumatic stress dysfunction, sickle cell anemia, spasticity-related ailments, terminal sicknesses, Tourette syndrome, and power ache.
Beneath SB 46, medical marijuana might be bought in tablets, capsules, tinctures, gels, oils, lotions, suppositories, transdermal patches, nebulizers and liquids, or oils to be used in an inhaler. Marijuana can’t be bought as “uncooked plant materials,” merchandise to be smoked or vaped, or in meals merchandise.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will oversee the gross sales of marijuana within the state. The fee consists of a 14-member board of medical, authorized and agricultural professionals who will handle a seed-to-sale program.
Alabama’s historic angle towards drug use and imprisonment
In Alabama, possession of marijuana with out a medical marijuana card or a cultivation license will stay a Class B felony. Class B felonies sometimes end in jail sentences of two to twenty years, with fines as much as $30,000.
Alabama has traditionally had an illiberal angle towards marijuana utilization. With this ambiance of stringent policing and harsh punishments, the way forward for medical marijuana seems to be harmful.
There are numerous obstacles to medical marijuana utilization within the state of Alabama that SB 46 should overcome. The Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice writes that “Alabama’s failure to increase Medicaid limits public funding of drug remedy and rehabilitation. Choices are patchy and underfunded, resulting in overreliance on prisons for individuals who want medical remedy, not punishment.”
Funds aren’t solely a barrier to drugs and well being; they’re additionally a barrier to democratic concepts, equivalent to voting. Alabama regulation denies voting to hundreds of eligible Alabamians who can’t repay court fines and fees.
“All Alabamians deserve equal justice below the regulation,” stated Alabama Come up, a nonprofit that works to advertise state insurance policies that enhance the lives of low-income Alabamians. “However from courtroom charges to civil asset forfeiture to capital punishment, our state’s justice system incorporates a spread of insurance policies that usually take a heavier toll on individuals who reside in poverty.”
Nonviolent drug offenses, prisons and other people of coloration
The truth is, drug offenses account for extra felony convictions and new prisons than some other offense, says the AACLJ. The Alabama Sentencing Fee experiences that felony convictions for drug possession alone rose 25% from 2017 to 2019.
This strict policing of drug utilization has lasting results within the state. In line with the Jail Coverage Initiative, a nonprofit aiming to show the harms of mass incarceration, Alabama has a ratio of 946 inmates per 100,000 residents, the fifth-highest incarceration fee in the world. This horrifying actuality should be remedied.
Sadly, the state has no plans of slowing down its mass incarceration. In October 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a $1.3 billion prison construction bill into regulation.
“Attaining an answer to our issues slightly than a courtroom mandate was paramount, and that’s what occurred in the present day,” Ivey stated earlier than signing the invoice.
There’s nothing paramount about strengthening a police state. Alabama politicians utterly ignore the jail disaster in favor of profitable private prisons.
“Our system is in a present humanitarian crisis. And each query can’t be answered with new prisons. The buildings won’t do something with the tradition of corruption in our prisons,” stated state Rep. Chris England, the chair of the Alabama Democratic Social gathering.
The invoice places the state in debt of $785 million, whereas one other $400 million from the $2.1 billion COVID state aid funds went into funding the 2 males’s prisons.
State Senate Finance and Taxation Normal Fund Chair Greg Albritton stated that the invoice is a “large step in curing lots of the difficulties now we have.” This rhetoric is archaic and drained, and it wants to finish. One of the best ways to treatment the difficulties occurring in Alabama prisons is to not construct extra; it’s to lower the jail inhabitants as a complete.
Lowering the jail inhabitants begins with expunging all incarcerated folks with nonviolent drug offenses. This alone will lower practically 15% of Alabama’s total jail inhabitants, in keeping with Alabama Appleseed.
Decriminalization of medicine
SB 46 is a stunning step ahead, however it’s an embarrassing compromise that also restricts and criminalizes marijuana use for individuals who do not need life-threatening, debilitating ailments and sicknesses.
A ballot carried out by Yahoo! Information and Marist discovered that round 75% of marijuana customers don’t use the drug for medical or ache functions however recreationally, for rest, socialization and creativity. Marijuana deserves decriminalization.
It’s essential to notice that America’s angle towards medicine has been hostile and harmful since President Richard Nixon declared a warfare on medicine within the ’70s. The warfare on medicine, slightly than enhancing the well being of American communities, has failed, the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated.
“Arresting and incarcerating tens of tens of millions of those folks in latest a long time has crammed prisons and destroyed lives of households with out decreasing the supply of illicit medicine or the ability of felony organizations,” the fee concluded.
The response from states like Oregon has been to decriminalize medicine, and generally all of them.
“Criminalization retains folks within the shadows. It retains folks from looking for out assist, from telling their docs, from telling their relations that they’ve an issue,” stated Mike Schmidt, district lawyer for Multnomah County, Oregon, residence to Portland. Schmidt supported Measure 110, which legalized and decriminalized all medicine in Oregon.
The outcome? A lower in opioid-related emergencies, discovered a number of research. In a state like Alabama, the place the opioid disaster is rampant, particularly in rural communities, the legalization of medicine, especially marijuana, could possibly be a game-changer.
Portugal, which decriminalized medicine in 2001, has seen greater than only a lower in opioid-related incidents. The nation, which used to have the worst charges of drug use within the European Union, now has charges far decrease than the European and U.S. averages. Drug remedy percentages elevated, HIV diagnoses dropped dramatically, drug overdose fatalities declined, and courtroom circumstances for drug offenses dropped by greater than 60%, in keeping with the Drug Policy Alliance.
Not solely does drug decriminalization have the power to save lots of states and international locations cash, it has the power to save lots of livelihoods misplaced to the hazards of underground and illicit drug abuse and habit.
By decriminalizing medicine, the stigma surrounding looking for assist additionally drastically decreases, resulting in a extra accepting and wholesome society general.
Solely 18% of individuals with drug use issues obtain remedy for his or her habit, in keeping with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Stigma impedes entry to care and reduces the standard of care people obtain. Individuals with habit, particularly those that inject medicine, are sometimes distrusted when presenting for care in emergency departments or when visiting different suppliers. They’re typically handled in a demeaning and dehumanizing method,” the institute stated.
The Nationwide Survey of Drug Use and Well being reported that “fear of negative opinions by neighbors or folks of their neighborhood is without doubt one of the causes individuals who know they want remedy for a substance use dysfunction keep away from looking for it.”
Stigma kills. Decriminalization and compassion are confirmed to save lots of and treatment ongoing crises.
What might be carried out?
There isn’t any higher time than now to decriminalize pure medicine like marijuana. Not solely will it alleviate the continued disaster in Alabama prisons, pure medicine have an array of well being advantages, like decreasing nervousness, relieving ache, killing most cancers and slowing tumor development, and stimulating appetites in folks with most cancers and AIDS.
There are a number of scholar organizations on the College that concentrate on or characteristic points involving the corrupt jail system and its relationships to medicine, like Tide Against Time and AL Students Against Prisons. This is a matter that college students care about, and it’s by way of their efforts that we might even see the top of mass incarceration.
Each scholar might be part of the answer. Contact your Alabama state representatives and state senators to allow them to know that neighborhood well being and security should be a precedence, and that constructing extra prisons will not be reflective of the legacy we need to construct.
If Alabama needs to show itself to be a frontrunner sooner or later, it must cease compromising on what a majority of People need and decriminalize nature, as soon as and for all.
This story was revealed within the Well being Version. View the whole concern here.
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