Tenn. republicans propose medical marijuana bill

Republican legislators in the state have recently proposed a bill that calls for the legalization of medical marijuana.

On Thursday, Jan. 18, Jeremy Faison and Steve Dickerson proposed SB 1710 the “Medical Cannabis Act” to the state legislature. This legalization would allow people with PTSD, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, cancer and other specific diseases to be treated for their illnesses by medicines which contain cannabis product. The patient would need to be registered to receive treatment in that manner and would carry a card that when inserted into a chip reader would display details about when the person purchased cannabis products and how much was bought.

The legislation then defines which parts of the cannabis plant would be legalized and how much could be given as doses. It also describes the licensing that medical providers would need to go through to be allowed to prescribe the drug, therefore not making it mandatory as a treatment plan.

According to Alternet.org there are two types of cannabis plants. One plant, marijuana, produces THC, the chemical that provides a high to the user. The other, hemp, produces CBD which reacts medicinally with the human body. The Medical Cannabis Act legalizes the use of CBD by-products, while maintaining that the other THC-containing products may not be used legally.

According to The Tennessean legislation was created and sponsored by house democrats, only two days later, which would, “essentially provide a proper legal defense,” for someone possessing no more than one ounce of marijuana who has a genuine medical diagnosis that it has been prescribed for. Senator Jeff Yarbro, the sponsor for the bill says it could pave the way for future measures or merely serve as a fall back should the large one fail.

The sponsors for the Medical Cannabis Act say it is estimated to benefit at least 65,000 Tennesseans. Here at Martin, senior communications major Eli McCaig, who suffers from epilepsy says the legislation, “Gives [him] hope,” for having less seizures. McCaig also says he would be interested to see how it helps others with different diseases.

General oversight for all things medical-marijuana would be provided by a new state board called the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission, according to The Tennessean. But individual counties could opt-out of participation with a majority vote of their county commission and doctors could also decide not to participate in the program by not seeking the license that would be required to prescribe the medicine. The legislation allows for local referendums to determine if a county should allow dispensaries.

Senators in opposition of the bill have argued that even opioids were once deemed safe as well and that medical marijuana should be handled slowly and carefully so the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Senator Bo Watson insisted that Tennessee will likely be slower than others to legalize marijuana medically.

The bill passed to second consideration on Jan. 24 and is now referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. At this point the timeline for when this bill could be voted on again gets blurry. Though an identical version of the bill was also introduced in the house to try to speed up the process of passing through both bodies, it is unlikely to be completed before legislature adjourns in April. For more on this issue follow along with The Pacer online.

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  1. “Low-THC strain only” seems to be a new trend in prohibitionist propaganda rhetoric.

    Read carefully:

    “Charlotte’s story and the concern for other young patients have led some lawmakers to consider passing legislation that only allows patients to access marijuana oils that are high in CBD and that have little or no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While it is heartening to see lawmakers’ concern for the plight of patients with catastrophic seizure disorders, these proposals unfortunately exclude the vast majority of those who can benefit from medical marijuana, some of whom also face life-threatening ailments.

    Relative Rarity

    While CBD appears to be particularly effective at treating seizures, the number of individuals treating seizure disorders through medical marijuana programs is relatively low. For example, only 2% of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions. While it is imperative that these individuals be allowed to legally access medical marijuana – and the strain they need – it is just as important to remember that there are tens of thousands of other men and women and a small number of children who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions whose symptoms are alleviated by medical marijuana. The vast majority of those patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.

    THC: Why It Matters

    Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is just one of the roughly 85 cannabinoids found naturally in marijuana. Clinical trials and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of patients have shown that THC, and strains of marijuana that include THC, provide important medical benefits for individuals suffering from pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and wasting disease. THC is also the cannabinoid most responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. While THC does cause marijuana’s “high,” patients use marijuana for relief, not for euphoria. Patients who inhale marijuana can titrate their dosage precisely to use only as much as they need, reducing or eliminating the euphoria. Some use marijuana only before bed.

    The federal government has officially recognized THC’s medical properties since 1985, when the FDA approved a prescription drug that is made of synthetic THC — Marinol — for nausea. Yet, Marinol is not adequate for many patients who can benefit from marijuana. For nauseated patients, a pill can be impossible to keep down. Meanwhile, many patients benefit from the synergistic effect of THC and the other cannabinoids, such as CBD. Natural marijuana is less intoxicating than Marinol because patients can titrate their dosage and other cannabinoids moderate THC’s psychoactive properties.

    Studies have shown that marijuana that includes THC can alleviate a host of debilitating conditions, including:

    Nausea and appetite loss: Researchers have found THC and marijuana with THC are effective anti-emetics and appetite stimulants for individuals suffering from the side effects of cancer chemotherapy or AIDS treatments.
    Multiple sclerosis: Research has found that marijuana with THC can alleviate spasticity. In addition, Canada, the U.K., and several other countries approved an oral marijuana extract made of equal proportions of CBD and THC.
    Pain: Several studies have found that marijuana strains that include THC can alleviate neuropathic pain — a notoriously difficult-to-treat nerve pain commonly found in amputees, AIDS patients, and patients with multiple sclerosis.
    Since the 1970’s, the federal government has been providing a handful of individuals who suffer from various ailments with marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi as part of the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program. The four surviving patients still receiving federal marijuana receive a strain with almost no CBD that has been essential to managing their conditions — a rare bone spur disorder, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and a painful condition called nail patella syndrome, respectively. The marijuana these individuals have benefitted from would not be allowed under CBD-only proposals.


    Medical marijuana legislation should not be so restrictive as to leave behind around 98% of the individuals who can benefit from it. THC has proven medical benefits and individuals who can benefit from strains that include it should not be forgotten when legislators debate medical marijuana bills.”



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