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Should marijuarana be legal for medical purposes in Alabama? That's the topic being discussed among lawmakers at the Alabama Statehouse. Wednesday, a hearing was held by the House Health Committee to get both sides of the argument.
Outside the Statehouse, a sizable rally was being held by those looking to make the drug legal for medical reasons. Among them, Terry Bradley, who says he's use marijuana for 15 to 20 years to treat chronic pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
"I wouldn't have to take all the medicines that have side effects, everything from suicidal thoughts to just being unable to function..." Bradley says.
Tammy Callazo has trouble speaking because she's recovering from surgery. Doctors removed all but 5 percent of a tumor on her brain. " I don't want chemo. I don't want radiation," Callazo explains, revealing that doctors told her she'd only have about 6 months to live. Still, she believes marijuana could treat her cancer just as effectively.
Callazo says she knows there are a lot of treatments using it, "but I can't get to them." She says she isn't a criminal and doesn't want to be one.
Testifying before the House Health Committee, pain management physician Dr. Michael Flanagan disagrees with Callazo and others. "Marijuana likely increases the risk of cancer, including a link to testicular cancer," he explains. "As a physician, I have not found any need to incorporate marijuana into my patients' treatment plan."
Jeanie Arnold, who also opposes any bill to legalize marijuana, shared the devastating impact marijuana has had on her family. In her testimony she recalled the SUV that spun out from a gravel road before T-boning her relative's car. The driver who killed her granddaughter tested positive for marijuana.
Lawmakers say their responsibility is to represent the people of Alabama, and the majority of their constituents are still against a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.
And even if the Alabama Legislature took up and passed such a bill, it would not survive a trip to the governor's office for final approval. "If it comes to my desk, I will veto it," Governor Robert Bentley said. "I'm not going to sign a legalize marijuana bill."
Copyright 2012 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.