A pro-marijuana mayor running for governor

Springville Mayor Dave Thomas, who served two terms as a state legislator from 1994 to 2002, announced his plans to run for governor of Alabama and drew attention for his position in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

“I think we should legalize it and decriminalize it,” Thomas said. “It has been part of holistic medicine for over 3,000 years. It’s proven now. People used to say that there was no scientific proof of its medical benefits. There are plenty now. It helped with the opioid epidemic.

Thomas said that while some cannabis oil treatments are legal under Alabama’s medical marijuana law, he knows someone who goes out of state to get a CBD compound. “The compound that was effective for her son is not legal in Alabama,” he said.

Thomas said laws criminalizing marijuana and jailing people for it don’t make sense.

“You can’t overdose on marijuana,” he said. “It is a natural substance. Until 100 years ago, it was part of medicine.

Thomas, 56, admits he has smoked marijuana but says he does not keep any in his possession.

“There’s nothing around right now,” he said. “I can’t afford to be arrested. They can arrest me. They won’t find anything. I set myself this big goal.

“The passion for freedom”

His stance on marijuana reflects his emphasis on personal freedoms, Thomas said.

“It’s illustrative of a passion for freedom,” he said. “My freedom does not belong to someone else. They can ruin your life because of a natural substance that does not require treatment.

Thomas thinks he’ll reach out to people on issues like the decriminalization of marijuana and his call to scrap grocery and state income taxes, as many have done. neighboring states.

“I run to ease the burden on families,” he said. “Momentum is building to repeal the food tax. I think it’s abhorrent to tax people on what they need to survive. Eliminate income tax. People will take that money and invest it or spend it. The source of state revenue would only increase. It would be fantastic for everyone.

People may think he’s a longshot, but votes, not money, decide elections, he said.

“I certainly don’t have the millions of dollars at my disposal that three of the candidates have,” Thomas said, referring to incumbent Governor Kay Ivey and fellow Republican challengers Tim James, son of former Governor Fob James and Lindy Blanchard. , a major donor to President Donald Trump, who served as his ambassador to Slovenia. “They’re so out of touch.”

The Republican primary is set for May 24.

“It’s a crowded field,” Thomas said. “If Governor Ivey is so popular, why is she getting so much opposition? She lost sight of two things: what it means to be a conservative and what it means to be a Republican. If voters think Kay Ivey has done a great job, I encourage them to vote for her.

narrow loss

In addition to his two terms as a state representative, Thomas has run once before for statewide office. He was the Republican nominee for Secretary of State in 2002, defeating Troy King in the primary and Dean Young in the runoff, and narrowly lost by about 4,000 votes to former Alabama Education Association president Nancy Worley. , the Democratic candidate, in the general election.

“I raised and spent $90,000 in this election,” Thomas said. “”I almost made it, without TV commercials. I’ve been overspent before. Stranger things have happened. I have seen voters speak loud and clear. I was a bit short. I had a lot of downforce.

Thomas again expects a lot of support from people who think the criminalization of marijuana is a failed policy.

‘Ordinary man’

For more than 20 years, Thomas served as president of APSCO, Alabama’s premier service company specializing in commercial pressure washing.

He and his wife, Bonnie, have two adult children, Meg and Jay, and four grandchildren.

“I would like someone to step up and speak for the common man,” Thomas said.

Thomas was elected mayor of Springville in 2020.

“It’s a whole different ball game being CEO of a small town,” he said.

His eight years of service in the state legislature showed him there was plenty of room for improvement in state government, he said.

“I have experience and knowledge of how the process works and how it should work,” Thomas said.

If Alabama voters want to see change in the state’s drug laws, they can get there by changing leaders, he said.

“If the voters step in on May 24 and choose Dave Thomas as governor, I don’t think the legislature would be wise to ignore the message,” he said. “I always felt that way, but I didn’t feel like it was worth talking about publicly.”

He thinks a lot of people share his point of view.

“We need to have common sense marijuana laws,” he said. “It is proven to be a miracle plant indeed. For people who want to make their own beer, make their own wine, grow their own garden, including growing marijuana, they should be able to.

hemp industry

In 2019, Alabama launched a pilot industrial hemp research program, with farmers allowed to grow the state’s first industrial hemp crop this century.

Thomas thinks this should be expanded.

“We can bring back the textile industry by expanding the hemp cultivation program,” he said.

“The hemp plant is a much more diverse raw material than pulp and it doesn’t take 20 years to produce the next crop. This is an untapped opportunity. »

Alabama can produce what consumers want and need, he said.

“We lost self-sufficiency,” Thomas said. “There’s nothing the people in Alabama need that we can’t do on our own. With the strength of our agricultural industry, no one has to go hungry.

We have what it takes to really shine and be an example for the rest of the country.

Lottery

Thomas said he favors a lottery, but not one set up to satisfy special interests that were behind previous legislation proposed in Alabama.

“If Alabama has a lottery, it would be in our interest to join Powerball,” he said. “If they could turn a deaf ear to special interests and craft legislation that would benefit Alabama, then I would support it. I’m more interested in helping the people of Alabama. If the governor presented a package that was truly best for the people of Alabama, it would be hard for members of the Legislature to vote against it.

Prohibition-type laws restricting personal choice on lotteries on moral grounds need to be reconsidered, he said.

“If you don’t want to buy a lottery ticket, don’t buy one, and if you don’t want an adult drink, don’t go to the liquor store,” Thomas said. “You can’t just tell other people, ‘You can’t do what you want to do because I say so.'”

bagpipes and skydiving

In his spare time, Thomas took up playing the bagpipes.

“I play bagpipes on the side, wearing a kilt,” he said. “I’ve done half a dozen weddings and have a funeral in Clanton on Saturday.”

He also performed 36 jumps from planes.

“I got into skydiving – it untangles my mind,” Thomas said.

“In politics, perception is reality,” he said. “Everyone is so preoccupied with optics. I am a politician who wears a kilt, who plays the bagpipes and who parachutes. There is a clear distance between me and the other candidates.

Springville Mayor Dave Thomas announced he was running for governor. He plays bagpipes as a hobby.

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