Gubernatorial candidate Lynda “Lindy” Blanchard was in Birmingham last week speaking with the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans.

As part of the question-and-answer session, Blanchard was asked about the pending legalization of medical marijuana in Alabama.

“As far as I know it is a done deal,” Blanchard said.

She said that she does oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“As a governor, my job is to keep it from becoming recreational,” Blanchard said. “I would be the gatekeeper against recreational.”

The Alabama Legislature passed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), in 2021, allowing persons with a demonstrated medical need to obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to be purchased at a licensed dispensary. The medical marijuana would be grown solely in Alabama on licensed medical marijuana farms, transported by licensed Alabama medical transporters, and processed at an Alabama licensed marijuana processor. Smokable products and cannabis baked goods would remain illegal and there is no reciprocity with other states. The Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission is tasked with training the doctors and licensing the new growers, dispensaries, transporters, processors, and integrated facilities.

“My son died of a drug addiction while he was a student at South Alabama,” Blanchard said. “His gateway drug was marijuana.

“I also had a child that had seizures. Thank God she grew out of it so I did not become one of those parents that are desperate for anything to treat their child’s condition.”

Blanchard is the former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia. 

Marijuana has divided Republican candidates for governor.

Incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the legislation last May legalizing medical marijuana.

“On the state level, we have had a study group that has looked closely at this issue, and I am interested in the potential good medical cannabis can have for those with chronic illnesses or what it can do to improve the quality of life of those in their final days,” Ivey said. “As research evolves, Sen. Melson and I discussed how critical it is to continue finding ways to work on this to ensure we have a productive, safe and responsible operation in Alabama.”

While Ivey and Blanchard appear to be in agreement on medical marijuana, Greenville businessman Tim James disagrees and feels that the law should be repealed.

“Opening this door is a very unwise decision,” James said. “This is nothing but a scam to make money for a handful of dispensaries. They are already fighting each other for permits. This is nothing but Colorado on steroids.”

James said that he has reviewed a medical study and that marijuana “does not do what its advocates say that it does” and that you would be surprised by the organizations that are opposing medical marijuana.

“People who are sick can still get it through the drug process,” James said. “Medicine for the pain can be administered through the normal process.”

James is the son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James (R).

Springville Mayor Dave Thomas (R) not only supports medical marijuana; he also supports recreational marijuana and admits to using it.

Thomas said that he has an economic plan to replace some revenue from cutting taxes. That plan includes expanding hemp cultivation, adding bamboo, and legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis."

"The propaganda that people have relied on for decades has proven to be false," said Thomas. "Quite frankly, it seems absurd to me that a room full of people are going to decide that Americans can't take a seed, plant it in the ground, and grow a plant, no processing whatsoever required, and yet it's illegal. And yet we've got an opioid epidemic from coast to coast using pharmaceuticals that are legal."

Thomas said he knows firsthand how beneficial the plant can be and that his life is proof that a marijuana user can be successful in life.

The Alabama Cannabis Coalition and the Alabama Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition have endorsed Thomas.

Thomas served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1994 to 2002 and was the GOP nominee for Alabama Secretary of State in 2002.

Blanchard resides in Montgomery where she and her husband, John Blanchard, have built a successful real estate business.

The GOP candidates for governor are Lindy Blanchard, Lew Burdette, Stacy Lee George, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Donald Trent Jones, Dean Odle, Dave Thomas, and Dean Young.

The Republican primary is May 24.

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