That is an opinion column.
It’s time. Long gone time.
Long gone time for our state lawmakers to crawl out of the muck and mire of ignorance and legalize medical marijuana.
Long gone time to cease cowering behind because-Obama-created-it-it-stinks foolishness and increase Medicaid.
Long gone time to make sure anybody confirmed by the courts to be doubtlessly dangerous to themselves or somebody of their family will not be capable of possess a gun.
Long gone time to cease two-stepping round our state’s abhorrent well being disparities—disparities laid naked for all to see by COVID-19—and, at minimal (sure, I’m speaking to you, Governor,) convene a statewide committee to inform us the right way to shut the embarrassing hole in toddler mortality charges between white infants in our state and Black infants, to raise entry to high quality healthcare (and dwelling situation that don’t threaten their well being) for our rural and low-income neighbors so they may have the identical equitable alternative to a protracted, wholesome life as different Alabamians. So the following pandemic doesn’t kill some residents at twice the speed of others purely because of the randomness of delivery.
Long gone time to cease pursuing prisons as revenue over humanity and really deal with the myriad inequities in our prison justice pipeline that trigger too many accused of non-violent offenses to fall destitute just because they can not afford bail and created circumstances so inhumane the federal authorities has worn out its paddle admonishing us.
Long gone time we exorcise our divisive demagoguery and collect a bunch of compassionate, erudite, thinkers to discern how we are able to deliberately and emphatically deal with oil racial boils that haven’t healed, the right way to redress still-living victims of the state-incited, enabled, or condoned violence for which justice was by no means achieved. Individuals like Sarah Collins Rudolph, our “fifth little girl”, who was severely injured and left blind in one eye by the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
Final yr, understandably, the state legislature poo-pooed each invoice, each subject, each dialog that didn’t contain a decimal level, that wasn’t a state finances matter. Once more, understandably, on the onset of what appears now appears gentle years in the past on the COVID-19 calendar.
That can’t occur once more. Alabamians, from home violence victims to low-income mothers-to-be unable to afford high quality prenatal care, simply can not afford one other three hundred and sixty five days of being missed, of being ignored. It’s already long gone time…
Long gone time for our leaders to cease not caring about all of us, no matter political occasion, faith, ethnicity, and sexual or gender choice.
Long gone time for us to cease being Alabama, to cease being stone-headed about circumstances that diminish our neighbors’ financial alternative, their well being, their hope.
Long gone time for us to cease saying, “Thank God for Mississippi” since, let’s face reality of us, they’re downright extra enlightened than we’re on lots of points.
Seven years after the state embraced quite a few prison simply reforms, Mississippi’s jail inhabitants, based on the Division of Corrections, is down 20%—that’s greater than pocket change staying in taxpayers’ wallets—and violent crime statewide is fifteenth lowest within the nation, based on FBI information.
We’re one in every of solely 5 states to not have not less than decriminalized medical marijuana. Mississippi will not be among the many different 4.
Final yr, State Sen. Tim Melton (R-Florence) launched the Compassion Act, an in depth invoice that outlines strict standards for prescribing medical marijuana, after chairing the 18-member Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission. Twelve members of that group voted to advocate medical marijuana, three abstained, three voted towards it.
The invoice handed the Senate however died with so many others within the coronavirus-shorted session. Melton not too long ago pre-filed Senate Invoice 46, ostensibly a dusted-off model of the 2020 invoice. It rests with the Judiciary Committee.
Among the many fee’s “no” voters: State Well being Officer Dr. Scott Harris. His workplace instructed me was he was too busy overseeing the statewide distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to say whether or not his stance has modified since 2019 or was impacted by being on the helm of the state’s unsteady battle towards a virus that has staggered our state.
A virus that may quickly have killed 8,000 Alabamians.
Final November, disabled Iraqi War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Sean Worsley was released from an Alabama prison after serving 10 months of a 60-month sentence for felony possession of medical marijuana legally prescribed to him in his house state of Arizona to deal with PTSD and mind trauma. In 2016, he was arrested whereas driving by way of Pickens County though he had a card authorizing him to make use of medical hashish.
Worsley and his spouse Eboni reside in Birmingham till they can return to Arizona. Whereas right here, he nonetheless will not be in a position to make use of medical marijuana.
“Due to the distinction in his situation earlier than with the ability to use hashish and after, we consider it is extremely helpful,” Eboni tells me. “Now, he’s again on prescribed drugs we all know should not good for him.”
This could by no means occur once more.
Attorney General Steve Marshall remains steadfast in his hard-headed opposition to medical marijuana. His workplace reiterated his shaky, outdated arguments he made in a letter to lawmakers greater than a yr in the past. He asserts legalization would contradict federal regulation that makes marijuana unlawful—though 45 states haven’t let that stand in the best way—and attracts a doubtful, Reefer Insanity-like parallel to the respective “origins” of marijuana and opioids.
All lives matter, proper? They actually ought to.
In that case, lawmakers, present us. This yr, throughout this legislative session, present us with payments, conversations, and actions centered on lives as a lot as line objects—on humanity somewhat than hubris.
It’s long gone time.
Unafraid to start out uncomfortable conversations, Roy is a voice for what’s proper and incorrect in Birmingham, Alabama (and past). His column seems in The Birmingham Information and AL.com, in addition to within the Huntsville Occasions, the Cell Register. Attain him at firstname.lastname@example.org and observe him at twitter.com/roysj