A top Republican gubernatorial candidate said Thursday that Alabama officials are pushing to establish a “drug cartel” to sell medical marijuana gum to all communities across the country. Alabama.
Tim James, a businessman and son of former Gov. Fob James, who is far behind outgoing Gov. Kay Ivey, also criticized the state’s new system for being lenient in the training required for doctors who will eventually by prescribing medical marijuana to patients. .
He also said the law, approved by the Legislature last year, will lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“It’s nothing more than a bait and switch to desensitize and start recreational use,” James said at a town hall forum hosted by the Baldwin County Common Sense Campaign Tea. at the Daphne Civic Center. “Their dream is the recreational potty and that’s where they’re going.”
John McMillan, director of the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission, said James’ characterization of the law and how it is handled by his organization is a “mischaracterization.”
Alabama State Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, an anesthetist who championed legislation to legalize medical marijuana last year, also accused James of trying to embellish the law to create a political problem in the race for governor.
Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is overwhelmingly opposed by all Republican candidates running for governor except Springville Mayor Dave Thomas, who wants to legalize it for recreational use.
A host of candidates, like James, adamantly oppose the state’s approach to legalizing medical marijuana. Alabama became the 37th state to do so last year.
Recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states, Washington, DC and Guam. The medical marijuana bill approved last spring does not include recreational use.
“When you run for office, you need a problem and you have to pick an Achilles heel,” Melson said. “I have nothing against Tim James. But as a doctor we need alternatives.
He added, “It’s easy to go against it for campaign rhetoric, but if you want to help people, you take a more open view.”
But the candidates’ views on medical marijuana ahead of the May 24 GOP primary recall last year’s criticism of SB46, the bill that passed the Legislature and kicked off a process moving toward a medical marijuana system in Alabama.
Opponents of the legislation mainly included religious conservatives who spent much of the debate last year worrying about the prospects of legalizing leisure. Proponents of medical marijuana have repeatedly stated that Alabama’s law does not address recreational use in any way.
Alabama law also prohibits common recreational uses of marijuana — smoking, vaping, or ingesting cannabis in baked goods. Legislation only allows consumption by tablet, gelatins or vaporized oils.
“I think my personal observation is that people who oppose it say it opens the door to legalizing marijuana,” said McMillan, the former state treasurer. “We are all against this. The commission, the staff and everyone. But we don’t know what the future holds. It is a federal issue.
James, when visiting Daphne, did not explain how medical marijuana will be consumed by patients. But he took issue with the training the state puts in place for doctors to be certified before they can prescribe medical marijuana.
“There’s a long, tough journey to get that designation,” James said. “You have to sit at your computer at 8 a.m., finish at noon, and at lunch you are now a marijuana doctor. It takes four hours.
According to administrative rules governing physician certification, only practicing Alabama physicians can apply for an Alabama medical cannabis certification license if they meet several requirements, including “proof of completion of a four-hour course related to medical cannabis”.
Licenses must be renewed annually and require physicians to complete, within at least 24 months, a continuing medical education course related to medical marijuana.
Every two years, the doctor must take a two-hour medical marijuana refresher course. Physicians also cannot advertise or promote that they practice “medical marijuana” or “medical cannabis.”
“They’re doctors,” McMillan said. “They have years of training. Most of them already know this.
James criticized the state law for including the word “dispensary”, saying a more accurate description is a “pot store”.
He said “pot stores” could pop up anywhere in the state.
And he said prescriptions, under state law, can be written for almost any disease.
James challenged the medical requirements related to the new state law.
He said the products will be available to almost anyone who needs them and said the “only thing missing” from the list of conditions is a “crushed toe”.
“There must be a qualified condition,” he said. “It’s chronic pain, not acute.”
Some of the conditions eligible for prescription medical marijuana include cancer-related illnesses, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss, autism spectrum, PTSD and Tourette syndrome.
McMillan said James was misrepresenting the facts about what the commission is aiming for before substances are prescribed to patients next year.
McMillan suggested critics “read the bill,” referring to SB47.
He said the biggest misconception he keeps hearing is that there will be a dispensary “on every corner.
McMillan said that at most, the law would allow 37 dispensaries. The law also requires that a city council or county commission approve a resolution before a dispensary can open in their jurisdiction.
“What we’re trying to do is have the safest, most secure, highest quality cannabis for the people who need it,” McMillan said.
A key deadline for the commission, McMillan said, is September 1. This is the date by which applications should be sent to potential producers and distributors.
Once applications are submitted to the commission, the panel will have 60 days to decide whether the state will grant them a license. A license is required for growers, processors, dispensary operators, transporters, laboratories and owners of integrated facilities.
“We also want to have public hearings on this,” McMillan said. “It’s another time factor. You add those up, it will be next year before we have products ready for patients.
James also criticized the program for only allowing cash purchases and not being set up to accept credit card payments.
Said James, “The person selling (medical marijuana) is someone who used to work at a Walmart, and he has no medical training. He can’t take a credit card. Cash only. By law of the state, it’s a cash business. We’re talking big money, crazy money.
McMillan said the reason for the cash-only purchases is that insurance doesn’t cover it.
“The doctors I’ve spoken to are extremely interested in getting certified to use in their practice,” he said. “It’s for chronic pain and cancer. It is extremely useful for Parkinson’s disease and seizures. There are huge benefits.
James said patients could be prescribed a large amount of the product.
“The law says you can have more than 70 doses of marijuana in your possession,” James said. “Nobody needs 70 doses.”
McMillan said James was referring to a maximum amount that likely won’t be what a doctor prescribes.
“That’s another misrepresentation,” McMillan said of James.
James also hit back at Ivey, saying she signed the medical marijuana bill despite opposition from law enforcement groups, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. Ivey’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“More than half of the district attorneys in the state of Alabama wrote a letter begging them not to do it and they did it anyway,” James said. “And they are Republicans.”