The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Laura Campbell, a 32-year-old mother of three from Cullman, says she has been forced "to be a lawbreaker" because she has chronic pain from a variety of ailments and is allergic to almost all pain medications.
She said the only way she has found to consistently relieve her pain is to smoke marijuana. She supports a bill that was introduced in the Alabama House Thursday that would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for medical use only.
The sponsor, Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, said it would help people like Campbell, with chronic pain, and those with terminal illnesses.
"I believe this is a matter of choice for individuals with terminal illnesses and chronic pain who have more pain and medical challenges than most of us could ever imagine," Hall said.
She said the bill would only allow use of small amounts of marijuana, when it is needed to relieve serious pain or to help terminal patients.
Hall said she was partly motivated to introduce the bill because of the 1992 death of her 25-year-old son, Darren, who had AIDS. She said her son had intense pain and was unable to eat during the later stages of his illness.
"As a mother, I would have been relieved if this had been available for his compassionate care," Hall said at a news conference Thursday before she introduced the bill.
Campbell said she has tried to take numerous medications without success for her pain caused by a long list of ailments, including arthritis and fibromyalgia. She said marijuana relieves the pain enough that she can better respond to the needs of her three children.
"I'm not a threat to society, but I have to be a criminal to get the medication I need to survive," Campbell said.
She said she tried using a prescription drug that is a pill form of marijuana, but that she couldn't afford the $500 a month price tag, after insurance.
A co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Joseph Mitchell, D-Mobile, said using marijuana for medical purposes is different that using the drug just to get high.
"We're not talking about 300 pounds of marijuana found in the trunk of a car," Mitchell said.
Huntsville Times story:
In Montgomery Thursday, Campbell appeared with Hall and Stephen Gordon, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Alabama, who is lobbying to pass Hall's bill, to speak for the bill.
From the Alabama Sentencing Commission's 2005 annual report:
"It became readily apparent when reviewing these laws that there was no clear line of demarcation on the amount of marijuana that can be considered possessed “for personal use only” under Alabama’s possession of marijuana statutes (13A-12-213 and 13A-12-214). Under existing law, a first offender who possesses 2.2 pounds or less of marijuana can be charged and convicted of a Class C felony under 13A-12-213 or as a Class A misdemeanor pursuant to §13A-12-214."