The Alabama Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it supports the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Alabama.

1819 News talked with St. Clair County District Attorney Lyle Harmon (R) Thursday about his view on whether or not the state should pass the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“I am opposed to it,” Harmon said. “It is a gateway drug.

“There are people who use marijuana that do not use other drugs, but every user of meth has also used marijuana.”

Harmon made the comments after a banquet in Moody honoring veterans and law enforcement held at the Moody Civic Center.

Harmon previously spoke out in opposition to the state’s medical marijuana bill during the 2021 legislative session.

“I spoke out against the medical marijuana bill, and I was attacked viciously for it,” Harmon said.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) and half of the district attorneys in the state, including Harmon, opposed Senate Bill 46 allowing patients to obtain medical marijuana on the recommendation of a doctor. That legislation passed even though the Republicans have a supermajority in both Houses of the Legislature.

Chey Garrigan is the executive director of the Alabama Cannabis Industry Association.

“The Alabama Republican Party is divided, and there is a wide range of views within the party,” Garrigan told 1819 News. “A Republican Senator sponsored the medical marijuana bill that passed last year. The appointment power to chair the Alabama medical cannabis commission came from Republicans. Our Alabama Legislature is majority Republicans.”

Garrigan said that her group is focused right now on having a successful rollout of medical marijuana. 

“Our main focus right now is the successful rollout of the landmark medical marijuana program in Alabama,” Garrigan said. “A qualifying patient with a medical need will be able to safely access the many benefits of the cannabis plant before the end of the year.”

Garrigan said that the Democrats' announcement reflects the views of a growing number of people in the state.

“There is a growing momentum within the state supporting decriminalization and recreational marijuana,” Garrigan said. “Today's announcement is the latest indicator of the growing tide in favor of the acceptance of cannabis.”

Cannabis advocates were able to successfully beat back bills that would have restricted access to cannabis during the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

H. Marty Schelper is the founder and director of the Alabama Cannabis Coalition.

“We do not need a Nanny State protecting us; we are adults and should be treated like adults,” Schelper said. “Regulation and control is exactly what increases the prices of any product, not just cannabis. You can stop by your convenience store and pick up a gallon of milk; why should you not be able to pick up a couple of grams of cannabis or some edibles? Beware of people in sheep's clothing attempting to control where, when and how you may access cannabis.”

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