On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will consider a bill to raise the minimum age for the purchase or possession of cannabinoids with psychoactive properties to 21.

Senate Bill 326 is sponsored by State Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence).

According to the synopsis, “Under current law, hemp contains psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabinoids. This bill would prohibit the sale, distribution, marketing, or possession of psychoactive cannabinoids found in hemp to any individuals under 21 years of age.”

The federal Farm Bill of 2018 made the growing and selling of hemp legal across the country. Hemp is a non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Marijuana is the psychoactive variety of the same species. Marijuana remains illegal in Alabama, though hemp is legal. While historically hemp was grown for industrial uses such as rope, flooring, paper, automobile panels and clothes, the most common use for it in Alabama is to produce cannabidiol oil or CBD. CBD is marketed over-the-counter as a health supplement to treat minor aches and pains. It has been shown to be effective, in some studies, in controlling seizures.

CBD is non-psychoactive, but some hemp processors have distilled the CBD to produce quantities of raw tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Delta 9 THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Delta 8 THC is very closely compared to Delta 9 but with only about 25% of the potency. Delta 8 is being lawfully sold across the state. 

Presently, the legal age to purchase alcohol in Alabama is 21, while to purchase tobacco products the age requirement is 19. If passed, this bill would treat psychoactive products derived from hemp much like alcohol with a minimum age to purchase of 21.

Medical marijuana will become legal in Alabama later this year, though it will be tightly regulated and will require a doctor’s recommendation to obtain.

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee will consider this and other legislation on Mar. 29th at 2 p.m.

Tuesday will be day 24 of the 2022 Alabama Regular Legislative Session. The legislature is limited to no more than 30 legislative days in a regular session but is not required to use all 30 days.

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