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April 2005
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Alabama?

I’ve been negligent in reporting that a medical marijuana bill is quietly working its way through the legislature of — yes that’s right — Alabama.
I admire the persistence of some pretty incredible drug policy reformers in Alabama (Loretta Nall is one of the most notable, but there are others as well). The medical marijuana effort in Alabama is starting to gain some publicity, and although few think it will succeed, the effort is getting a positive message out there.
Alabama has a history of being fairly proud of its harsh marijuana laws and enforcement. Interestingly, Alabama was one of several states to provide supporting statements in the Raich v. Ashcroft case — not because they believed in medical marijuana, but rather because they believed in states’ rights enough to support the philosophical concept despite their clear opposition to medical marijuana.
Here are some excerpts from the Amicus Brief of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana:

Alabama, has apparently earned something of a reputation for its zeal in prosecuting and punishing drug crimes. See E. Nadelmann, An End to Marijuana Prohibition, National Review, p.28 (July 12, 2004) (“Alabama currently locks up people convicted three times of marijuana possession for 15 years to life.”). It is not a reputation of which Alabama is embarrassed or ashamed. On the contrary, Alabama’s Attorney General has every intention of continuing to prosecute drug crimes to the fullest extent of the law. …

Under Alabama law, as under the U.S. Code, marijuana is a “Schedule I” drug, meaning it has a “high potential for abuse” and has “no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision,”

Respondents’ conduct — cultivating and possessing marijuana for personal consumption — would thus plainly be criminal in the State of Alabama. Notably for present purposes, Alabama courts have — again, at the Attorney General’s urging — expressly refused to recognize “‘medical necessity’ as a valid defense in a prosecution for the unlawful possession of marijuana.”

Good luck, Alabama. Always keeping it interesting.

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