What Alabama's New Medical Marijuana Law Means for the Future of Cannabis in the State

Alabama lawmakers have shifted their views regarding citizens’ use of the cannabis plant in the wake of a growing economic, social, and political push for the legalization of medical marijuana across the U.S.The substitute medical marijuana bill that Governor Kay Ivey signed on June 10th,2019, includes a proposal created by Alabama lawmakers to allow citizens 19 and older suffering from one of the 33 listed conditions to qualify for medical marijuana. In addition, the billextends Carly’s Law of 2014 and develops a medical marijuana commission that will help make decisions for a bill that could be considered in the year of 2020. 

The medical marijuana commission includes 15 licensed professionals from various backgrounds. There are physicians who will specialize in areas such as, pain management, pediatric neurology, oncology, and palliative care. Amongst the physicians will be a licensed pharmacist, a mental health or substance abuse advisor, a criminal defense attorney, a district attorney, and an employment attorney. The commission is a good step towards medical marijuana legalization because it will provide further research on a topic that many citizens and legislators are still uneasy about 

Although efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation in the conservative state have been stagnant, Alabama’s legislatures have taken small steps toward medical marijuana legalization, such as the passage of Carly’s Law in 2014. Carly’s Law is derived from the child of Amy and Dustin Chandler. The Chandlers pushed for studies that could benefit seizures and epilepsy for a few years, but their efforts were not successful. Finally, in 2014, Carly’s Law granted access to students at The University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct clinical trials using CBD oil to treat children who suffer from seizures. Carly’s Law of 2014 has benefited the state because residents and officials had the opportunity to experience the advantages of CBD oil when 50 children and 50 adults, participated in the clinical trial.

 SB 236 also states that insurance companies and health benefit plans are not required to reimburse patients for any cost related to the purchase of medical cannabis. Medical marijuana consumption will essentially be the sole responsibility of the physicians and the patients because of the detailed statewide clearance system. This system requires physicians to complete a two-hour course and examination on the patient before prescribing the medication.  

Although SB 236 was approved by Governor Kay Ivey, the state of Alabama is still very conservative in its approach to social issues. Some legislators are only willing to support the medical marijuana bill because the Act allows city and local governments to tax the sale of medicalcannabis up to 2.1% of all sales. If more taxes are imposed on the sale of medical cannabis, it could generate more revenue to rural areas, who are being excluded from the 10% tax. In order to sell medical marijuana, cannabis growers, distributors, and sellers of medical cannabis would be required to have a license,because it would be permitted at the state level. The careful study of each rural and urban community is aimed to prevent a concentration of businesses and dispensaries in one area. If businesses are concentrated in one area, it would inconvenience some patients and it might raise concerns about equal transportation and cost efficiency. 

 Despite the potential health and economic benefits, some legislators are still against the legalization of medical marijuana because they fear that it will lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana. House officials failed HB 96, which aimed to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. However, legislators expressed their views on repeat marijuana offenders and decided that a fine would not be enough. If more people are fined, instead of jailed for small amounts of marijuana, it could help Alabama’s overcrowded prisons. Most individuals arrested for marijuana are African Americans, despite equal rates of usage in black and white communities. This has led to African Americans being arrested fourtimes more than whites for possession,which places minorities at a disadvantage in the legal system. 

 States such as California, Nevada, and Colorado, all started with the passage of a bill that allowed the sale of medical marijuana. These states have seen some negative affects after the legalization of marijuana, including more accidents caused from individuals driving while under the influence, increased mental health problems amongst teenagers, and an increased risk in underachievement among young adults. Alabama legislators are afraid of the negative effects that could impact the state and its communities, so they have decided to take one step at a time, to ensure the safety and security of the new medical marijuana bill. 

 Furthermore, the medical marijuana bill has passed a highly conservative legislature in Alabama because officials want to give patients suffering from various illnesses, access to another form of treatment. Legislatures in the state have also noticed an increase in opioid addiction and would like to gain control of the crisis by utilizing medical marijuana to helpreduce prescriptions for opioids

Now that Governor Kay Ivey has signed SB 236 into law, Alabama’s legislatures and the newly appointed medical marijuana commission, can work together to help people who are suffering from chronic illnesses.      


This article was written by Adrianna Bayles, a summer intern at Reid Law. Adrianna is currently studying Political Science and Florida A&M University.

Which 2020 Candidate is Most Likely to Secure the Nomination of a New Democratic Party?

The Democratic Party has evolved greatly over the years, especially recently. The liberal faction of the Party has grown exponentially and continues to grow. A recent study by the Brookings Instituteshows that in 1993, only 25% of Democrats considered themselves liberal, while 48% were moderate. As of 2018, 51% of Democrats regarded themselves as liberal, while only 34% claimed to be moderate. The voting population as a whole has moved left in recent years as well, jumping from 17% liberal to 26%. Although some voters may be elated by this news, this liberal shift will likely make it much more difficult for Democrats to unite around one nominee to take back the White House in the 2020 election. 

The Candidates

There are currently 23 Democratic candidates vying for the 2020 nomination. With the first Iowa caucuses still months away, there is plenty of time for a shakeup in the field, such as candidates withdrawing and poll rankings surging to the top or falling. However, with the first debates just weeks away, there are three somewhat familiar figures atop the the “already crowded field.”The candidates polling in the top three(as of June 10, 2019) are as follows:

#3: Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator: “Persist.”

            Elizabeth Warren’s name has been “tossed around in discussions of possible presidential candidates”for a few years now. According to her campaign website, she seeks to tackle the following issues: 

·      Ending Washington corruption

·      Rebuilding the middle class

·      Strengthening our democracy

·      Ensuring equal justice under law

·      Developing a foreign policy for all

Warren’s extensive economic background gives her a strong foundation. This background, coupled with her progressive platform has expanded her base among Democratic voters. 

#2:Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator: Not me. Us.”

            A self-described Democratic Socialist and Progressive, Sanders provides far-left ideas and platforms that previously were not seen very often in the political arena. He is an avid supporter of a universal health care system, free tuition, the Black Lives Matter movement, the legalization of marijuana, and LGBT rights, just to name a few. Some of the issues that his campaign mentions are:

·      Providing health care, college, and jobs for all

·      Expanding social security

·      Combatting climate change 

·      Fighting for rights (women’s, disability, etc.)

·      Reforming gun laws, criminal justice, immigration, and Wall Street 

If Sanders’ stance is perceived as radically progressive and too far left, this could limit his ability to attract a vast majority of moderate voters to secure the Democratic nomination. 

#1:Joe Biden, Former Vice President and U.S. Senator: “Our best days still lie ahead.”

            Serving as the 47thVice President and a U.S. Senator from Delaware, Biden’s extensive background is not new to the public. According to his campaign website, some of the issues for which he is advocating are the following:

·      Investing in the education system

·      Making health insurance a right, not a privilege

·      Tackling climate change

·      Reforming the criminal justice system

·      Reforming immigration policies

·      Reevaluating how the U.S. uses military power

·      Ending the dominance of big money in our democracy

As a long-standing visible public figure, Biden’s historical policy positions through the years may become present issues for him.  For example, Biden spearheaded the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The bill included provisions that many feel contributed to an increase in mass incarcerationand led to the current abysmal state of U.S. prisons. It is also important to note that Biden is older, and could be perceived as possibly out of touch with the new Democratic Party.Many millennials worry that Biden will earn the party’s nomination, claiming he “appeals to moderates”and is not as progressive as they would like. 

My Prediction(s)

            Historically, moderates have dominated the Democratic Party. However, in the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders’ far-left ideas changed the dynamic of the Democratic Party substantially. His campaign and subsequent endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s campaign caused a major shift leftward in the Democratic Party, which likely has contributed to his popularity. Considering this shift, he is the candidate I believe would most likely fit the “New Democratic Party.” However, his platform is still too far left to unite the party and take back the White House. Therefore, I do notbelieve he will receive the party’s nomination.

After extensive research, Joe Bidenis the candidate that I believe will receive the Democratic nomination for President. He is a recognizable, established figure in the public eye, and he already has a strong political foundation and broad base. Despite a candidate’s past policy positions, voters generallyappreciate someone with whom they are already acquainted, so they know (for the most part) what to expect out of that person. I do believe that it will be challenging for Biden to integrate/take over the New Democratic Party, but his familiar and steady presence will be an advantage with voters.

            There is a possibility that another candidate may surge to the top ahead of Biden, due to the element of the unknown and unexpected in a candidate’s past, a candidate’s skill to navigate and express coherent policy positions in response to real-time news events, a candidate's ability to amass the necessary campaign financing to remain competitive, and merely the large size of the field of Democratic candidates, which could reveal a “dark horse.” However, I do not envision those factors changing the current direction of the Democratic nomination. 

The Takeaway

            What does this all mean for the 2020 presidential election? Nothing is guaranteed, and the race for the Democratic nomination will likely remain unpredictable until the convention. Although the Democratic party has experienced a large leftward shift in ideology, that shift may not be enough to control the future of the party in 2020. This will be particularly true if moderate wings of the party continue to back more establishment candidates like Joe Biden. On the other hand, more liberal voters could prevent a moderate candidate from receiving a majority of votes, possibly setting up a showdown in the final days of the nomination. 

            It is still much too early make solid predictions of who will secure the nomination. The crowded field and ideological split in the Democratic party likely makes choosing a candidate even harder for voters. However, following the upcoming debates and leading up to the February caucuses, things will heat up quickly. Although no one knows what will happen, it is sure to be an exciting moment in history, as America watches the democratic process unfold.

This article was written by Sierra Bowens, a summer intern at Reid Law. Sierra is currently studying Psychology and Africana Studies at Auburn University.

Thomas Jefferson Goes to College: Separation of Church and State on College Campuses

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” Thomas Jefferson said that when explaining the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to a Baptist Church. His statement was rather clear and powerful. The United States was not to be run by a specific religion. As history states, we were fleeing from a country that persecuted others for having differing beliefs. The separation of church and state should not be an issue because, who would want government to be involved with worship and worship involved with government and administration? But, it is an issue. In today’s world, our cultural, social, and religious differences are thrown into a vat to create the “melting-pot” America is, but just has oil and water do not mix no matter how hard you shake the bottle, religion and law are not a perfect mix. Our society often has trouble defining when or in what circumstances does one take precedence over the other. 

The perfect case to state my point is Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010). In this case a Christian organization wanted to be established as a university recognized group but in order to maintain that status, the organization was required to abide by the university’s nondiscriminatory policies. The CLS organization has strict rules to become a member. One must provide specific written evidence stating that one believes in God, His word, His son, and that Jesus died for our sins, etc. In addition, the CLS bylaws state that they must not allow anyone who engages in shameless homosexual behavior or holds religious convictions different from those in the Statement of Faith. Martinez, a gay student at Hastings College, wanted to be a member of the Hastings CLS chapter. As the bylaws stated, CLS denied him because he was, in fact,  a male who liked other males. 

Martinez complained to the university due to his rejection that was blatantly discriminatory, and the University denied funding and affiliation for the Christian Legal Society at the Hasting Campus. The CLS immediately sought after legal help because they felt as if their First Amendment rights were being violated because the university was denying them funding due to their beliefs. The supreme court ruled 5-4, that the non-discriminatory clause in the University bylaws was neutral and reasonable, meaning that it applied in general, to everyone, and was fair. Because of this, the First Amendment rights of religious practice were not violated.

Justices Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts had a differing opinion. Their dissentstated: “Today's decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country's institutions of higher learning.”

Ultimately, the majority ruling established a solid directive. Rules that are applied, should be neutral and reasonable.  Because the CLS chapter is at a public university, it can continue to practice its bylaws and meet its religious standards but cannot be affiliated with the university. That is not violating a right, that is drawing a line on what is appropriate and acceptable for a large institution filled with individuals from many walks of life. 

An example is the CRU organization at Auburn (oh, yeah, I go to Auburn.)

Campus Crusade for Christ is an interdenominational Christian organization. It is allowed to be university affiliated because it includes ALL people, no questions asked.

Another example is the Black Student Union at Auburn University. It was created to represent the interests and concerns of black students on Auburn’s campus and community. Although its main purpose is to highlight black students, the union welcomes all people of all races, cultures, genders, sex, etc. 

The bottom line is, to be affiliated with Auburn University, you must be inclusive and non discriminatory. But to practice what you believe, it is your right. 

In conclusion, church and state must remain separate or else we will begin to violate other constitutional rights and when other constitutional rights are broken we will lose our structure. Law will no longer have its stability and will always be subject to opinion and belief and that is a recipe for disaster. Thomas Jefferson and his constituents knew the result of mixing faith with law. They suffered the consequences, they fled a country demanding lives due to its intolerance. Our society has been so focused on building a wall, well, let’s make sure the wall between church and state remains in place and strong as ever. 


This article was written by Sydney Johnson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and President of the intern program.

Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban in a Win for National Security


In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court voted to uphold President Trump’s travel ban on Muslim-majority nations. Even Trump seemed surprised by the announcement, tweeting an exclamatory “Wow!” (see here). Sticking to Trump’s campaign promises, the ban restricts nationals from five Muslim-majority countries from entering into the United States. The third of its kind, the Trump administration had made major alterations to the policy after lower courts invalidated two previous attempts. The saying, “third time’s a charm” couldn’t be stated at a more accurate time. 

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ban, there was tremendous backlash from politicians and the general public alike. A majority of the opposition traces its roots to hues of discrimination against Islam - a seemingly direct violation of the First Amendment. The state of Hawaii was one of the main voices of opposition to Trump’s policy, stating that the ban exceeded the President’s authority stated in the Constitution and under immigration laws. Others argue that statements the President has previously made regarding Muslims, terrorists, and Islam reveals a personal prejudice Trump has towards the religion and an attempt to eradicate it through the travel ban. With the still fresh backlash against the court’s firm stance with the First Amendment from the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court was quick to jump on these claims and address them head on. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating that the ban was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the INA," and that “an anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect.” 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented claiming, "It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns." Though respectfully Ms. Sotomayor is advocating for the Islam religion and those seeking refuge from a place many couldn’t imagine, she is overlooking the greater good that she was sworn in to protect. Without these restrictions, the possibility of our society being threatened on domestic soil would grow with each passing day.

The travel ban remains constitutional whether or not politicians agree. To say that the travel ban is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s assurance of religious freedom would mean that it should ban all religions seeking to take root in the United States, not just Islam. The First Amendment does not discriminate against certain religions, though many are staking their reputations on trying to paint that picture. If this were the case, how would we select which religion is permitted and which is restricted? The Islamic religion has believers that are some of society’s most beneficial and reputable citizens. Our society probably wouldn’t function as efficiently without its great Muslim leaders. Unfortunately Islam doesget a bad reputation because of certain radical believers, and the banned countries are known hotbeds for radicalism. America is composed of diverse people groups that claim just as many diverse religious practices. The Supreme Court’s ruling of 5-4 is not a question of allowing or disallowing Muslims into the United States; it is a question of national security. 


This article was written by Megan Gambrill. Megan is one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and a student at Auburn University.

Analysis: In the Wake of the North Korea Summit

President Trump has done what no other president has been able to do: secure a meeting with the leader of North Korea. President Trump has touted that denuclearization is the goal but that is a wish from an alternate universe. This meeting has come about with no real consequences for either side. From the outside, this looks like a great photo op for both President Trump and Kim Jong-Un. 

President Trump can battle back against those who shout from the rooftops that he has caused chaos around the world by meeting with the most atrocious leaders in modern times in hopes of denuclearizing his military. For Kim Jong-Un, a photo-op with the President of the United States is a great ignitor for a propaganda fueled machine that North Korea is running. Other than the great visual each leader will get, their respective goals will not be met. North Korea will not ship all of their scientists and nuclear weapons on a plane and say goodbye to the one asset that has made them a global worry. 

The first thing that should happen is a declaration that both nations recognize the Korean War is over. This is lurking tension that has plagued the Korean Peninsula and much of the region for decades now. The looming threat that North Korea will attack South Korea has previously been set aside as Kim Jong-Un finally met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, both crossing the border into each country in a strong message of unity. An agreement that would symbolically put to rest the unease would instantly make this meeting a success, even without nuclear disarmament. 

Second, an agreement to alleviate North Korea from the United States’ hostile policies in exchange for an honest commitment from North Korea to denuclearize.[1]Much of North Korea’s GDP is spent funding their military while the rest of their society suffers greatly. In fact, more than 40% of the population is believed to live below the poverty line. To put that in clear U.S Dollars, the estimated monthly income is $2 to $3. [2]

Unfortunately, what came from this was the public image benefit and a vague agreement for North Korea to commit to denuclearization in exchange for security provided by the United States. [3]Not surprisingly, many nations have expressed positive reactions. Most certainly, anytime a meeting such as this happens when, prior to, there were no channels of communication, positive reactions are warranted. To have five hours of talks with Kim Jong Un is an extraordinary feat in and of itself. [4]

It will be interesting to see how the two major political parties react. A large group of Republicans had previously chastised then President Obama for even mentioning that he would be open to discussions with North Korea, at a time where nuclear testing had caused scare around the world. Now, many of those same Republicans have hailed President Trump as the one who can unite the world and praising him for his actions that no other president could do. However, Trump said that the goal is opening up channels to discuss future possibilities and to believe that North Korea would give up what is ultimately its only bargaining chip is highly unlikely and will take time. [5]

Democrats will likely attack the hypocrisy of those now supporting President Trump but lashed out against President Obama. MSNBC believes that President Trump has now harmed relationships with allies and done so at the expense of the cruelest despot in decades. [6]It has also been said that President Trump came out a loser to this meeting and was essentially played by North Korea. [7]The belief was that this meeting didn’t even need to happen. [8]

How this affects the elections is unclear. As party politics blindly lead those who proudly flaunt their party affiliation, not much can be said. This meeting, one which should be celebrated for the mere fact of opening up communications with a despot in hopes of creating peace and ending a war that has lasted half a century, should be accepted with open arms. If any political repercussions, Democrats will likely look petty, complaining about something that no sitting president has ever accomplished. To state that Trump came out a loser is to look at the issue in a wholly wrong light and is a transparent example of party affiliation dictating the beliefs of individuals.

Since Trump stepped into office, Democrats have stated that the President of the United States is the leader of the free world and must act as such. President Trump has done that which no other so called leader of the free world has done and is acting on behalf of all nations. South Korea benefits by having the Korean War ended after over half a decade of war and threats of attack. The unrest in the entire area helps Japan, China, and other nations. The world benefits as a whole when a despotic ruler commits to disarming. North Korea citizens benefit as this opens up avenues for possible trade and an overall better quality of life by opening up to other nations. For an example, look no further than Japan in 1850 to the early 1900s, after Japan ended its isolationist policies. To suddenly limit the scope of this meeting and only evaluate the implications to one nation when the entire world is watching and will garner benefits is likely to reach some voters in a negative light. 


This article was written by Dallas Coleman, one of the attorneys on staff at Reid Law Firm.










Market Freedom Could Save Lives

Every year, people in the U.S. are diagnosed with several organ diseases and dysfunctions, some fatal. These conditions are reliant on one thing; replacements. Replacements are the only long-term solution to alleviating such detrimental action to the body by parts that are quickly failing, but not everyone is so fortunate to receive “subsidized” organs. In most cases, we see that due to the high amount of new diagnoses of organ related illnesses, that there are simply not enough organs that are being donated.

Statistics show that 77 people register for an organ donation daily. To an uninformed reader, this statistic may seem low and manageable. However, there are currently over 92,000 people on organ donor waiting lists with an additional 37,000 added every month. This large number leads to a ridiculous waiting period for these precious life savers, and we continue to lose an average of 18 patients a day on these waiting lists. Excluding death, most patients are in time sensitive circumstances that are directly affecting the health of their body. Even when the “lucky” ones are fortunate to get a transplant, the surgery is usually so late that the patient will either not be saved by the transplant, or the patient will live with long term health effects because of the damage that has already been done to his body. 

What we’re missing is an incentive for people to donate. Due to the value in organs, we would see a much larger market if organs were sold rather than just donated anonymously.  Allowing donors to receive a monetary incentive would lead to a substantial increase in people receiving transplants due to the large plethora of healthy organs. This could potentially save tens of thousands of lives and would be arguably more economically beneficial for the overall spectrum of organ patients. While most would be compelled to sell their organs, some would still generously donate their organs for someone who couldn’t afford their organs, allowing those who can’t afford to pay to receive organs from a substantially less crowded waiting list. Other economic factors would be basic supply and demand economics that would show the decrease in prices of various organs.

There is also the safety component of a legal and medically approved free market system. As with most other illegal products, there is a black market for organs within the U.S. and around the world. Most of these black-market deals involve fraudulent people who are taking advantage of their client’s dire situation by selling them either nothing at all, or an organ that doesn’t meet the criteria to adequately help their client’s needs. If made legal, you would see a medically vetted system that would only allow healthy organs to be sold. This was the case in Iran, which is the only country in the world that legally allows people to sell their liver. Within a few years after the law’s implementation, waiting lists in Iran were almost completely eliminated, and there was a substantial decrease in the black market for organs.

Discussions will remain about the safety and moral implications of selling organs for profit. However, everyone is likely to agree that the current system is broken and significant reforem needs to be enacted. 


This article was written by Brad Robinson, one of Reid Law's 2018 summer interns and an incoming freshman at the University of Alabama.