The debate about marijuana legalization has raged on in the United States for over 100 years. It is a common, yet intensely debated and regulated drug. Over the last 30 years, marijuana has slowly become decriminalized and legalized in many states, but not all states share the same views on medical and recreational marijuana usage.
Alabama has had a conservative view on marijuana use in the past but in 2021, became the 36th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use only. Laws and penalties for marijuana usage are changing and evolving with the times. This article will go over Alabama’s current laws and penalties for marijuana currently as well as what decriminalization might bring for its citizens in the future.
Medicinal Marijuana Law of 2021
Alabama became the 36th state to legalize medical marijuana in 2021, but it’s taken some time to roll out the program and the state is still working on getting everything set into stone. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect if you need medicinal marijuana in Alabama:
Medicinal Marijuana Law and Stipulations
The new 2021 law legalizes medical marijuana for adults and minors, but there are certain conditions that will have to be followed. In order for a person to get approved to use the drug legally, they will have to visit a doctor who is currently licensed to practice medicine in Alabama and has passed an exam on medical marijuana. That doctor then has to verify that you have a qualifying medical condition and determine that other more conventional means of medical treatment or therapy have failed to fix or help your condition. Some of the qualifying medical conditions include:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Panic disorder
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Crohn’s disease
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sickle cell anemia
- Epilepsy or a condition causing seizures
- Terminal illness
- HIV/AIDS-related nausea or weight loss
- Cancer-related cachexia, nausea or vomiting, weight loss, or chronic pain
- Spasticity associated with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Spasticity associated with MS (multiple sclerosis) or a spinal cord injury
- Persistent nausea
- A condition causing chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy isn’t advised or has proved ineffective
How to Get Medical Marijuana
In order to qualify for a medicinal marijuana card, you would need a doctor’s recommendation as stated above as well as proof of an Alabama residency. When you have these, you then pay to apply for a medical marijuana card. The fee won’t exceed $65. If you’re approved, the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission will enter your information into the statewide cannabis patient registry system. That’s when you can start buying the prescriptive amount from a licensed dispensary.
Penalties for Possession if Not Carrying Legally
Although 30 states so far have recreational marijuana legalized, Alabama is quite far away from there being shops on every corner in the near future. Getting medical marijuana was huge for those fighting for legalization in the state, but heavy penalties can find you if you are not careful and follow the rules for medical marijuana. Medical marijuana only legalizes certain amounts for certain people (those with medical cards) so if you’re found with marijuana on your person and you do not have one, the penalties in Alabama are quite steep.Here are the penalties as they stand today:
In Alabama, marijuana for “personal use only” (no intent to sell) is a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,000. A subsequent conviction of marijuana for “personal use only” is a Class D felony punishable by a minimum of one year and 1 day and a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison along with a maximum fine of $7500.
Marijuana possessed for any other reason other than personal use is a Class C felony which is punishable by a prison sentence of a minimum of one year and one day in prison and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, along with a maximum fine of $15,000. Penalties for trafficking or selling to minors goes up from there.
The Future of Marijuana Decriminalization
There are bills currently being introduced, such as bill SB 160, to decriminalize marijuana in Alabama. This bill would reduce the penalty for possession of less than two ounces to a violation and $250 fine for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $750 for third and subsequent offenses. Third and subsequent offenses would be considered a class D felony but would carry no jail time. Bill SB 160 also contains expungement provisions for past offenses, which could do wonders for those caught up in the legal system unjustly as well.
Get the Advice You Need and Respect You Deserve at Brackin & Johnson
Have you been charged with possession of marijuana in the state of Alabama? No matter if it is your first or fourth charge, we know how stressful it can be to face these charges, and the pressure you feel about hiring the right lawyer can make it even worse. With this in mind, you will need a lawyer who understands what you’re going through and will give you the best legal services possible.
At Brackin and Johnson, we are experts when it comes to the criminal justice process and how to work with each District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney, city prosecutor, or judge handling your criminal case. Our experience allows us to better inform our clients of what they can expect prior to even entering the courtroom. We believe in integrity, justice, and honor. Going through the legal process is not easy and we aim to take as much off of your plate as possible. Contact us today, and let us fight for your future.