Thursday, May 07, 2009

What happened to HB434 The Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act?


I have been getting a number of emails and phone calls inquiring about the status of HB434. It seems that when I pulled the bill back in April I let the folks who were actively involved with ACC know, but forgot to post about it to my larger reading audience. Sorry about that. Here is what I can tell y'all about what happened.

Our bill, HB434, was slated to come up in judiciary committee on April 1. On the day before, our sponsor Rep. Patricia Todd, informed me she was ill and would not be in the legislature all week so she couldn't be in committee to talk about her bill. Rep. Laura Hall, who was the original bill sponsor, was conveniently absent from the committee that day and had indicated to our consultant that she would not be there the day it was voted on....whichever day that might happen to be. HB434 was then carried over til April 8.

Now, before the bill was to come up in committee I and another member of ACC contacted every member of the judiciary committee to determine if we had the votes to get the bill passed out of committee as written. WE DID! But, with Rep. Hall saying she wouldn't be there to vote on it (because she is running for Senate and didn't want that on her record) we didn't have the votes. It would have been a tie.

However, on April 7 Rep. Todd contacted me and said that the committee had sent word to her that they would NOT pass HB434 but would pass the version introduced in 2006. That was UNACCEPTABLE.

The 2006 bill was written by a certain lobby firm, who shall not be named, and not by the patients who actually need the marijuana as medicine. This lobby firm bill stipulated that medical marijuana could only be dispensed through an FDA licensed pharmacy. That pretty much killed the whole bill because marijuana is not an FDA approved drug and therefore cannot be dispensed by a pharmacy. That bill left patients with no safe, legal way to get their medication.

Since I refuse to drag very ill people from all corners of the state to fight for a bill that won't do a damn thing to protect them in acquiring their medication I pulled the bill this year when Rep. Todd told me what had happened. I saw no need to keep spending our meager resources when the outcome would have been far less than desirable.

So, what happens next?

I've spoken to our sponsor Rep. Todd about what comes next. She has voiced her willingness to help us craft a new bill for the next session during the break between sessions and to be the sponsor again next year. I want everyone reading this to know that we could not possibly have a better sponsor than Rep. Todd. Her plate was full this year and she took the medical marijuana bill as a favor. Next year she has indicated that it will be one of her priorities and when she sets her mind to something it has a way of actually happening. Rep. Todd knows all about medical marijuana. She was the executive director of AIDS Alabama for many years and had to resign that position in order to sponsor this bill. That, my friends, is dedication. None of what happened this year was her fault and she is deserving of our praise and thanks for taking the bill to begin with. Please email ( her and tell her how much you appreciate her help and how much you love her for having the courage to take on this highly controversial and politically charged issue.

Over the break between sessions we will be meeting with Rep. Todd and crafting another bill for the next legislative session. If you are a patient, physician, nurse or member of the clergy who would like to have some say in what goes in the bill then you need to email me at so I can let you know when and where we plan to meet.

Additionally, if you would like regular updates then you can join our Yahoo discussion group by clicking this link.

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