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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — A group gathered at the state house Thursday calling for the decriminalization of marijuana in Alabama.
Members of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition are pushing for bills they hope will prevent people from going to prison for possessing marijuana.
Jennifer Hogan with the coalition said she was previously incarcerated in Missouri for seven years for possession of the drug.
“It’s never fun to list that I’m a felon, and I have to,” Hogan said.
Hogan now lives in Dothan and said she doesn’t want anyone else to go through that.
“An employer, when they do a background check, I don’t want to lie,” Hogan said. “But ‘What are you a felon for?’ ‘Possession of cannabis.’ ‘Oh, well that’s no big deal anymore.’ The employers don’t even care.”
Two bills are filed in the House and Senate to lower the penalties for possessing marijuana. Both House and Senate leadership said those bills aren’t going anywhere.
“I have zero interest in that legislation coming up,” Sen. President Pro Tem Greg Reed said.
Reed said the legislature should instead focus on the rollout of Alabama’s new medical cannabis program. He said now is not the time for any bill dealing with marijuana.
“I don’t see any appetite for the legislature being able to modify or change expanding anything associated with marijuana in this session,” Reed said.
House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter also said those bills won’t come up in the House.
Those with the coalition said they’re disappointed about lawmakers’ unwillingness to consider these bills.
Patrick Merritt is the Region Three representative for Alabama’s Libertarian Party. He said he’d like to see lawmakers explain why they won’t consider these bills.
“He will not allow representatives to represent their constituents, which is not what his job is,” Merritt said. “If his ideas are better, then he needs to debate them and convince people.”
Neither of those decriminalization bills have been scheduled for committee.