The following release is from a group of Alabama patient advocacy organizations, including Alabama NORML, Veterans for Natural Rights, Canna-Patient, RAMP and American Medical Refugees:
Alabama — Patients and citizens of Alabama ask that the following language in the current draft of the medical cannabis program legislation be changed. Overall, this bill is a good starting place, however there are a few concerns. This includes but is not limited to: the language is extremely vague in many areas and could be interpreted in unintended ways, there is no pediatric access outlined, and patients have concerns about confidentiality/data misuse regarding the registry.
We ask that you make amendments as outlined below.
1. Pediatric access is not outlined at all.
No medical cannabis program is complete without access for minors. The age of 19+ was written in a couple times, but there is no discernable access for pediatric patients. Hundreds of children with epilepsy, cancer, Crohn’s, and autism could be significantly helped through full access. Nearly every medical program in the Nation allows pediatric access, and in most cases this access comes before adult access. Without clear and compassionate pediatric access, Alabama is starting well behind the rest of the United States.
2. Registry confidentiality concerns
The way this bill is written, it potentially allows open access to data sets the registry. Several entities need their access restricted or banned except under specific circumstances. These potential access loopholes could to be abused and encourage patient discrimination.
• “Certifying Boards” is too broad. The registry shouldn’t be open to all certifying boards, only those certifying the patient for a medical card and the specific marijuana board certifying businesses. This broad wording would allow for an electrician’s license to be revoked.
• Law enforcement clause is too broad. Wording should specifically protect patients from being abused. It should specify that law enforcement access can only be obtained for cases with charges that directly relate to the patient’s use of cannabis and may not be accessed by law enforcement enforcing traffic and driving laws. Otherwise, it could mean automatic DUI and promote discrimination. Clear impairment needs to be present for a DUI to be issued.
• With the physician access, a clause needs to be added saying “patients may not be denied healthcare services based on participation in the registry”.
• Medicaid access should only occur when there is a charge relating directly to the patient’s use of cannabis.
3. The entire “Any Task” clause (p.19, line 25), needs to be removed from the language.
Negligence needs to be tied to impairment, not cannabis use. This clause prohibits the patient from nearly every public activity if they took their cannabis, even if there is no impairment. This could mean that a law enforcement officer pulling you over, runs the plates then checks the registry. If you have a medical card, the assumption is that you have used cannabis. The wording could place you at risk for DUI just simply for being on the registry.
4. There is no requirement to have patients on the Commission.
Patients are stakeholders are the targets of these policies and regulations; therefore, you need patients on the Commission, preferably .333% or one-third of Commission members being patients. How can policy be created when the stakeholders are not included in that process?
Amendment Requests to the Draft Medical Cannabis Program
5. Juicing needs to be added so a dispensary can choose to sell juice.
As drafted the prohibition of “raw” cannabis could limit product sales in dispensaries. Juicing is one of many methods patients use to help manage symptoms. Removing the prohibition on raw cannabis would allow for centers to provide juice.
6. One licensed lab is a bottleneck to the program.
Regionally based labs are a better option. It is best to plan for more labs and not need them, then to have to come back to the legislature and increase allowed labs. This way the program’s response to an issue can be quicker if it becomes needed.
7. Add a clause that patient homes cannot be searched without warrants or clarify who is agreeing
to the search.
(2a-52) This language is too broad. Specify which “licensee” signs off on getting searched. The language should specify “medical facility licensee”.
8. Needs Implementation date for patient applications and for patients to have access to services.
Right now, the only implementation dates apply to business licensing. There is no clear deadline for the program to be up and running.
9. Product labels need to have all growing aids used from seed to sale.
You want to know what nutrients, pesticides, insecticides, additives, etc. were used to grow the cannabis.
10. Access to fresh/dried flower needs to be included.
Without access to flower, the access to viable products are limited. Costs also significantly increase for patients.