Senate committee passes medical marijuana bill, Bentley keeps parks open and Old Cahawba memorial

Apr 23, 2015

Alabama Senator Bobby Singleton

Alabama’s Senate could be debating allowing medical marijuana in the state soon, since a Senate committee approved a comprehensive medical marijuana bill yesterday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4 to 3 to pass the measure. The bill was likely able to pass committee because three Republican senators failed to attend the meeting.

The legislation, if passed, would allow patients who suffer from 25 specific conditions to purchase a maximum of ten ounces of medical marijuana per month from a state-regulated dispensary.

The marijuana would be taxed at 2.5 percent, with the tax revenue going toward police and sheriff’s departments to combat drug trafficking.

Bill sponsor Senator Bobby Singleton of Greensboro is also considering converting the bill into a constitutional amendment, in order to put it to a public vote.

Alabama’s governor has issued an order for a delay on shutting down state parks due to budget issues.

Governor Robert Bentley is instructing the state parks division to delay closing four state parks and two golf courses until further notice. The parks were originally to shut down May 1 because of the legislature’s inability to pass next year's General Fund budget.

Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein says unless a General Fund budget is approved that fully funds the Alabama State Parks System, the division will have to take extreme measures to brace for the harsh reality that will occur due to this significant loss of revenue.

Governor Bentley has proposed a $541 million tax increase to offset the budget shortfall, but lawmakers are having trouble getting behind his plan.

Today marks the beginning of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Selma.

The April 1865 Society is holding a memorial ceremony for Union soldiers at Old Cahawba Archaeological Park to honor federal soldiers who died while being held captive at the Cahawba Military Prison also known as Castle Morgan during the Civil War.

Linda Derry is the Site Director and Historical Archaeologist at the park. She says the ceremony will also honor prisoners of war who perished in what was once considered to be the largest maritime disaster in U.S History.

“It’s such a sad story, they survived the bloodiest war, they survived prison of war camp, they thought they were going home to their families but their steam boat tragically exploded on the Mississippi near Memphis, Tennessee on April 27th and killed almost all of them, so they never made it home.”

The memorial ceremony will be at four pm at Old Cahawba near Selma. It will include a wreath laying by Civil War reenactors, cannon fire and a tour of the old prison site. 

A committee in Alabama’s House of Representatives approved a bill yesterday that would let private adoption agencies turn away same-sex couples.

The House State Government Committee approved the bill on a 6-4 vote.

The measure says groups can’t be forced to participate in adoptions and foster care placements that violate their religious beliefs. It would prohibit the state from refusing to license or contract with the child care service providers that refuse services on religious grounds.

Supporters say this law is needed to protect religious-affiliated organizations from being forced to go against their beliefs. Opponents say it could legalize a broad range of discrimination in the name of religion.

The bill doesn’t mention homosexuality specifically, but proponents say it’s in anticipation of nationally legalized same-sex marriage.