This year, Republican representative Mike Ball and his Senate counterpart Paul Sanford successfully led a bi-partisan coalition of compassionate legislators towards a first step to medical marijuana reform. Signed by Gov. Robert Bentley on April 2, it is known as Carly's Law, named after 3-year-old Carly Chandler of Birmingham, who suffers from a rare genetic epileptic disorder.
Unfortunately, the proposal falls short in many ways. First, the bill only provides an affirmative defense to prosecution, which means medical marijuana patients would still face the humiliation of arrest and trial, and the burden of an arrest record for the rest of their lives. Second, this bill only applies to the use and possession of high-CBD (cannabidiol) extracts, which consist of just one component of marijuana. Furthermore, this CBD-only approach leaves a vast majority of patients behind. Finally, Carly's Law requires a "prescription" for the legal use of medical marijuana, yet "prescribing" a federally illegal substance may jeopardize a doctor's federal license. Still, this bill is a good indicator of changing attitudes toward and wider acceptance of medical marijuana.