History of CBD and Cannabis: Alabama
Since 1931, cannabis and all of its derivatives have been completely illegal in Alabama. With some of the harshest regulations in the country, a first time possession charge of miniscule amounts of marijuana could result in hefty fines, jail time, and a criminal record.
Despite the state’s harsh history and reputation, over the years residents and legislators have slowly chipped away at the state’s criminal penalties.
As high profile cases of minorities being targeted by law enforcers ramped up, it’s become increasingly important for the state to repair its national image. Additionally, problems of mass incarceration, unfair police profiling, and dwindling state revenue have motivated some lawmakers to change their mind on the cannabis question.
Cannabis, CBD, and Alabama
For decades, Alabama laws towards substance abuse remained the same. No matter the intent of the possessor, those found with cannabis were considered criminals. Throughout the seventies, enforcement started to ramp up as the War on Drugs provided funding for substance use programs.
Yet while enforcement is high, provisions for social services have historically been minimal. Under this system, many drug users are unwilling to seek out support from public health institutions, unable to find jobs due to their criminal record, and socially isolated. Throughout Alabama, pockets of legally and socially disenfranchised people occupy each and every community.
Over time, officials and policy experts have shifted their opinion on the issue of cannabis cultivation, possession, and use in small quantities.
By April of 2014, Governor Robert Bentley went on to sign Carly’s Law, which finally permitted the University of Alabama to provide THC free CBD oil to children with epilepsy and other neurological conditions. However, this bill didn’t include any wider legalization of CBD oil or cannabis.
However, many believe that Carly’s Law has set the stage for future legalization and decriminalization of cannabis. After several failed attempts, the state senator Bobby Singleton proposed a medical marijuana bill in early 2016.
Fate of Alabama Medical Marijuana
Although the bill passed in Senate judiciary committee with near unanimous approval, it ended up failing to ever reach the Senate floor. The head of the Senate Rules Committee completely blocked the bill, stating: “We don’t need that in Alabama.”
Later on, the High Times described the bill as, “the most impressive piece of legislation the South has seen in regards to establishing a statewide medical marijuana program”.
For now, cannabis legislation has come to a standstill. However, many consumers are noticing wider access to hemp-derived CBD extracts, oils, tinctures, and food in many urban areas.
As mainstream acceptance widens and the pressure ramps up, it’s likely the legislature will have to reach a fair compromise concerning cannabis at some point.