Alabama's pot bill would cause more harm than good, say drug experts


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    A bill making its way through the Alabama state house right now would reduce penalties for marijuana possession. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

    However, it may face a filibuster on the Senate floor, as a similar bill failed to make it out before the House Judiciary Committee.

    Some legislators consider marijuana to be a 'gateway drug.' Drug experts say after having a talk with your child about the birds and the bees, the next discussion needs to be about marijuana. One drug counselor told ABC 3340, he has had a patient who is nine years old battling marijuana addiction. If this bill passes, it might free up some prison space. But, drug counselors fear it will only make more addicts.

    As more states work to legalize or reduce marijuana penalties the debate has yet to be resolved as to whether marijuana is a gateway to stronger drugs. Kevin Bridgmon is a counselor with Bradford Health Services. He said marijuana has become a major concern and its use is on the rise among teenagers and young adults.

    "We're seeing a real spike in daily use. We're talking about a gram to up to seven grams that I've seen and that's a lot," said Bridgmon.

    Bridgmon said the marijuana that people have access to now is highly potent in its THC content and is doing a lot of damage. He said if this bill passes it will give those addicted better access and cause more harm.

    "Give them more excuse to say, 'okay, this is something that I can get away with. I don't have to hide it as much anymore," said Bridgmon.

    Lt. Clay Hammac, commander of the Shelby County Drug Task Force said marijuana is a problem that cannot be ignored. When asked if marijuana is a gateway drug, he said it is and passing this bill will send the wrong message.

    "Let me be very clear on what I'm saying and I say this unapologetically. Marijuana is not a safe drug. It is a gateway drug and I say that with boldness and conviction. I've seen it far too often in my line of work that there is a greater form of potency that transition to a more dangerous, more reckless, more deadly drug usually starting with a relaxed perception that marijuana is safe or okay," said Lt. Hammac.

    Both Lt. Hammac and Bridgmon said marijuana leads to a lot of the problems we have today. Like opioid crisis, including heroin, and other harsh drugs.

    Lt. Hammac says there is lack of understanding on both sides of the argument. He highly recommends that lawmakers really do more digging before making the bill final.

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