Wood supports medical marijuana study commission

Published 6:00 pm Friday, June 14, 2019

VALLEY — State Rep. Debbie Wood has a personal reason why she was supportive of Alabama creating a medical marijuana study commission that could result in cannabis becoming legalized in the state. In 2015, Wood was diagnosed with cancer after an ultrasound. She underwent a double mastectomy, which cleared out the cancer, and in March, she said she will be cancer-free for five years.

She said using synthetic drugs during treatment will help save lives, but it will also “wreck your body.”

Wood said the use of medical marijuana can help those going through similar problems today and the state should explore every possibility to help people.

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“We are just now learning marijuana or hemp oil can be for certain people who are going through illnesses,” she said. “I think we need to provide anything that will help people within our state to live a better life.”

Wood is aware marijuana can be a taboo word in the South, but she’s excited about the commission created by Senate Bill 236.

“We live in the Bible Belt, so when you say the word marijuana, most of us that have grown up in church and the biblical faith, we run from that,” she said. “If you had asked me five and a half years ago, I would have been one of those who ran.”

However, after her personal battle with cancer, Wood understands there is much cannabis can offer in a medical setting.

“I think it is a good thing and that we need it, but I think the information is important, so people will understand that medical marijuana is not something to get you high,” she said. “It has a healing component in it that can heal certain illnesses and help people survive things they are going through.”

The medical marijuana study commission is tasked with studying the issue and making recommendations for Alabama legislators to consider next year. The measure was approved after a bill to allow medical marijuana failed in the Legislature.

The original bill, proposed by Sen. Time Melson, R-Florence, would have allowed patients with approved medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval. The measure passed the Senate but did not make it past the House.

Rep. Bob Fincher, R-Wedowee, said lawmakers have been willing to study the issue in the past, noting that SB236 actually extends “Carly’s Law,” that allows patients to access CBD oil through a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

However, he said the state needs to proceed cautiously when looking into medical marijuana on a bigger scale.

“If we have it — it will need to be very strictly supervised,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a precursor to completely opening up the door to full-blown marijuana open use.”

Fincher said the state already has a problem with doctors overprescribing opioids and other pain pills to patients.

Wood said after winning her fight with cancer as a Chambers County Commissioner, it lit a fire for her to run for a higher office in politics. Now, she feels she has a personal connection to those fighting the same fight she once did.

She said whenever patients take any kind of chemotherapy, either infused or through pills, there is pain that accompanies it. She said medical marijuana is something that can help soothe those pains.

“I didn’t have that option in Alabama,” Wood said. “Anything that we can bring to people who are going through illnesses in the state that will relieve that their pain is a good thing.”