Is Weed Legal In Alabama?

Is Weed Legal in Alabama? Can you use recreational weed in Alabama? Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Alabama?

The state renowned for its country music and homestyle cooking, Alabama boasts an array of attractions from the Alabama Museum of natural history to its momentous national parks. The states' tumultuous relationship to recent civil rights issues has made it a sombre place of remembrance and reconciliation with its memorials and galleries.

Although the yellowhammer state lags behind most of the country in regards to progressive politics, there has been some recent progress in its efforts to decriminalise cannabis. In particular, its potential in the medical world.

History of Cannabis in Alabama

In 1931, cannabis was made illegal for recreational purposes. Under these new laws, people in possession of cannabis face the possibility of prison time and a hefty fine.

In terms of the popularity to Marijuana use however, Alabama hasn't varied drastically between 2011 and 2016, with an increase from 3.4% to 3.8% of the states total population admitting to having used Weed. By Comparison, in a study produced by John Elfein, we see that in states like California where Marijuana has been legalised since 2016, consumption has risen to over 20% by young adults as of 2021.

Is Recreational Marijuana legal In Alabama?

A highly conservative state, Alabama, has similarly rigid policies regarding its stance on recreational cannabis. Currently, the possession of recreational cannabis carries with it a few consequences. A small quantity can be considered a misdemeanour, but, if the perpetrator is caught on a multiple occasions it has the potential to escalate into a felony charge. Misdemeanour charges have a maximum penalty of up to a year in prison followed by a $6000 fine while felony sentences range from 1-10 years and the possibility of a $15000 fine.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal In Alabama?

33 states have already made the move to legalise medical cannabis and the heart of the South has also cautiously moved into a phase of medical exploration with marijuana.

"It's encouraging to see lawmakers making progress towards legalising medical marijuana in Alabama." Karen O'Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project

While Alabama maintains a stringent ban on recreational cannabis consumption, it has gradually begun a move towards legalising it under certain medical circumstances. As of 2014, a bill under the name 'Carly's Law' was introduced to the senate making it possible for patients who suffer from seizures and conditions related to epilepsy to receive a prescription for medical marijuana. Granted there must be a THC content lower than 3%.

"Among our goals was to determine the safety of CBD oil therapy, and it appears that, in many cases, patients tolerate the oil quite well."Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology, University of Alabama

As recently as February 2021, the 'Compassion Act' was passed by Senator Tim Melson of Alabama which took no less than 15 minutes to be decided upon in a 21-8 vote in favour of its legislation. The 'Compassion Act' would grant an Alabama based cannabis commission the ability to issue suppliers with the licenses and resources required to produce and distribute medical cannabis goods.

Shortly after 'Carly's Law' and the introduction of the 'compassion act', extensions were made on both policies to introduce the Alabama CARE scheme (Compassion, Access, Research and Expansion) to broaden the states access of medical marijuana to a wider range of patients suffering from debilitating conditions, including HIV related illness, cancer and mental health conditions.

Where can you buy weed?

Given the current regulations in Alabama, It is illegal to possess personal quantities of recreational cannabis and is even more unlawful to distribute it. This includes marijuana with a THC content under 3%. However, you can purchase hemp related goods legally within the state of Alabama, typically sourced from alternative health outlets.

Under the recommendation of a doctor or medical professional, patients are able to easily access their dose of Medical marijuana from dispensaries located throughout the State. Initiatives started by 'Marijuana Doctors Dispensaries' aims to put potential patients in contact with the resources and people needed to acquire a prescription for medicinal cannabis products.

The benefits to legalising weed

It is certainly no secret that the legalisation of medicinal and recreational marijuana across various states in the US has propped up the economy. In case of Colorado, where weed has been entirely legal since 2012, the state has received a surplus in marijuana related taxes, with its peak in 2019 being $100 Million.

Not only would a marijuana tax benefit the local businesses and overall economy of Alabama, it brings with it the potential to make immense state wide savings in regards to renewed cannabis legislation. Annually, Alabama commits $15,000 to its prisoners and there are approximately 3500 inmates with non-violent drug related charges. While the state wide savings here are obvious, the legal fees expended on marijuana related charges are annually in excess of $7.5 Million which again provides drastic savings on taxpayer dollars and the wasted time in the legal system.

So Will Alabama Legalise weed?

Medically, it looks as though Alabama is set to make significant progress in the coming years. Having already opened the opportunity to patients who suffer from debilitating conditions to be made eligible for a Medical Marijuana prescription from their health care professional.

Recreationally, it doesn't seem promising that Alabama will be legalising weed anytime soon. Many of its surrounding states have yet to make the leap into legalising weed on this level as well. Typically, the Southern States have historically passed legislation that resembles that of its Southern partners. So we can potentially expect some progress once Alabamas adjacent states make the move to legalise recreational cannabis.

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Liam Wright
Liam Wright

Liam is a young Sydney based writer with a keen interest in progressive politics and speaking to the experiences of minority groups. Having reported on the devastating effects of a global crisis on the Australian music industry, Liam shifts his focus to the ever-growing cannabis industry.