- D. H. Reilly
“This Gives Them Hope”: Reminding Alabama What Medical Marijuana is Really All About
When Governor Ivey had a ceremonial signing in Montgomery last month for all of the legislation passed in the 2021 session. Among those pieces of legislation was, of course, SB 46, the bill that will enable residents of the Yellowhammer state to get medical marijuana cards.
Photos and video of the event show legislators and supporters proudly standing behind the governor as she ceremoniously signed their individual pet bills into law, but there is something different about those SB 46 supporters. There are more of them. And some of them are in wheelchairs. And many of them are children.
It was a poignant reminder of something that has often gotten lost in the shuffle in the debate over medical marijuana in Alabama. Yes, the state stands to gain a lot of tax revenue thanks to medical marijuana - close to $500 million over five years according to estimates. And yes, with that kind of tax revenue being collected, there will obviously be some businesses pocketing some serious cash too.
But the scene at the signing was a reminder that all this started with the advocacy of struggling, devastated patients and their families, and that ultimately medical marijuana is about bringing hope to a whole lot of Alabamans, many of them children, all of them suffering.
Alabama’s Carly’s Law Marks the Beginning of a New Hope
Right from the beginning, every move Alabama has made toward medical marijuana was won through the efforts of patients and families who were fighting just to have hope for relief.
Carly’s Law, passed in 2014, legalized CBD oil with up to 3% THC for Alabamans with debilitating epilepsy. It was named for a then-3-year-old girl with severe epilepsy whose family had exhausted all other treatment options.
Carly’s father, Dustin Chandler, told Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT that his daughter had once experienced hundreds of seizures a day, “some really bad, convulsive, locking her body up a lot of times, she’d have 7-9 of those a day.”
Finding Hope with CBD
After the passage of the law named for her, shortly before Carly was to begin treatment with CBD, Chandler summed up his feelings about his daughter’s imminent new medication to the Alabama Media Group.
“Several parents that I've spoken to have seen a reduction in seizures but also a reduction in severity level of the seizures -- and obviously we hope that Carly sees that -- but there have also been some results showing slight improvement in cognitive ability, more attention," he said. "We hope it helps with seizures, we hope it helps with cognitive ability.”
And all that hoping paid off. As Chandler told WIAT, his daughter saw a significant improvement in her condition after she began using CBD. His daughter’s plight was enough to turn him from a staunch prohibitionist to a CBD advocate, and the results he saw turned him into an advocate for medical marijuana legalization. “I think it really opened my eyes to it.”
In 2020, while the State Legislature was still debating medical marijuana, Chandler told a State Senate committee, “I encourage you to please when you’re thinking of those things, think of the suffering people in Alabama who are hopeless, and turn them into hopeful."
Keeping Parents’ Hope Alive With Medical Marijuana Legalization in Alabama
One can see that same kind of hope in the words of some of the parents who attended Governor Ivey’s signing ceremony last month.
Cristi Cain told the Alabama Media Group that the new law meant so much to her because of the improvement her son’s epilepsy had shown through CBD, and she saw expanded access to medical cannabis as potentially offering her son even more relief.
“We want to give him every opportunity to succeed in life that we would give our other children. Just because he has disabilities and epilepsy and whatever else, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deserve to be able to live a happy and healthy life.”
When Hope Comes Too Late
One of the parents in attendance at Ivey’s signing was not there out of hope for the future but to honor the dashed hopes of the past.
State Representative Laura Hall first introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana twenty years ago. She was inspired to do so by the death of her son, Darren, five years before due to AIDS complications. At the time, she received little support from her colleagues, and her proposed bill went nowhere.
Hall has told the Opelika Observer that she has “no doubt” her son “would not have suffered and died” if he had had access to marijuana to treat his condition.
Now a quarter of a century after his death, she was there to witness the signing of a medical marijuana bill nicknamed the “Darren Wesley ‘Ato’ Hall Compassion Act” in honor of her son.
“It’s Important for Us to Keep Fighting for Him.”
Dustin Chandler was also at the ceremony. Even after CBD alleviated so much of his daughter’s suffering, he continued to support broader medical marijuana access. His comments to the Alabama Media Group summarized why this fight is so important to so many. Medical marijuana isn’t about getting high; it’s about giving hope.
“There’s a lot of people that are desperate to find new treatments. And if their physician is willing to help them with it, then this gives them hope. So it’s really for the people that are suffering.”
Cristi Cain doesn’t plan to stop advocating for her child and others like him, either. As she said at the signing, her son is happy in spite of his health problems.
“He’s very happy,” Cain said. “And that’s why it’s important for us to keep fighting for him.”
Could Medical Marijuana be the Hope You’ve Been Looking For?
Despite whatever stereotypes may get thrown about when people discuss medical marijuana, it really is as simple as this: For many who have been suffering without any end in sight, medical marijuana means hope for a better life.
If you’re suffering from one or more of the qualifying conditions, and traditional treatments haven’t worked for you, why not find out if medical marijuana offers the relief you’ve been missing?
Reserve an appointment today, and we’ll connect you with one of our compassionate doctors just as soon as we’re cleared to begin doing so. You and your doctor will discuss your condition and decide together if medical marijuana is right for you. Reserve an appointment today, and you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Alabama Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-5633, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Alabama Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.