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.