Madison County commissioners voice concerns about licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries

By Scott Turner

Rep. Mike Ball addresses the Madison County Commission about the new medical cannabis law. (Scott Turner)

Members of the Madison County Commission said they understand medical cannabis can help residents suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS and other illnesses.

But they are concerned about drug abuse should they allow dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county. According to County Attorney Jeff Rich, the county would not have authority over Huntsville or other municipalities that might issue a license.

“We’re not talking about people who suffer from MS, ALS or Parkinson’s who would benefit from this,” County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said. “We’re concerned about abuse and those who would manipulate the process.”

Madison County Chief Deputy Stacy Bates told the commission the sheriff’s department was maintaining a neutral position on the issue, but agreed abuse was a concern.

“It’s safe to say it’s like opiates or anything else,” Bates said. “There’s going to be abuses, things that you deal with, DUIs, under the influence of these things. … It’s the same thing we deal with, with other drugs.”