Pubdate: Thu, 06 Feb 2014
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2014 The Advertiser Co.
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Brian Lyman


Medical Necessity Could Be Used As Defense By Those Facing Prosecution

An Alabama Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that its 
sponsor said would allow Alabamians to take part in clinical trials 
of a marijuana extract that may have medicinal properties.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, would allow 
those facing prosecution for possession of the substance, known as 
cannabidiol, to use medical necessity as a defense. Acceptable uses 
of cannabidiol would include treatment for pain, seizures and "any 
other condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine."

The defendant would have to prove in court that a physician with whom 
they have a bona fide relationship diagnosed them with a debilitating 
condition, and that the extract would "likely ... provide the 
defendant with therapeutic or palliative relief from the debilitating 
medical condition."

Parents and caretakers of those with debilitating illnesses also 
could use it as a defense if they were carrying it on behalf of a patient.

Cannabidiol, known as CBD, can be sold as an oil, in capsule form and 
in other ways. According to Project CBD, a nonprofit website that 
supports distribution of the extract, CBD can be purchased legally in 
California, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington. The substance may 
have benefits for those suffering from chronic pain and seizures, and 
Sanford said the bill would allow residents of the state to 
participate in a study by the Food and Drug Administration on the substance.

Some committee members expressed concerns that the bill represented a 
way of decriminalizing marijuana in the state. Sanford said the 
extract had just 3 percent THC, the compound in marijuana that 
produces the feelings most associated with use of marijuana.

"You can't get high off this," he said. "This would not offer the 
desired results for those folks."

The bill would allow anyone brought into court for possession of the 
substance to claim medical use as a plausible defense. Sen. Phil 
Williams, R-Rainbow City, agreed to some extent that the bill was not 
decriminalization, but had reservations.

"It still has to be proven," he said.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.
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