It is distinctly possible that Tennessee could see the legalization of a comprehensive medical marijuana program in 2017.
MERRY JANE reported earlier this week that state Representative Jeremy Faison and Senator Steve Dickerson, both Republicans, planned to introduce legislation in the near future aimed at giving patients with a variety of health conditions access to medical marijuana. The proposal, aptly titled the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017, was officially introduced on Wednesday.
In its current form, the bill would give patients with around 12 serious health conditions access to cannabis medicine. Those qualified conditions include, cancer, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable pain, refractory seizures, seizure disorder, spasticity, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy.
It would also authorize a 15-21 member Medical Cannabis Commission (MCC) to incorporate additional conditions into the program based on the findings of doctors and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Similarly to other medical marijuana laws that have passed in 28 states across the nation, the bill would require patients to obtain a recommendation from a state-certified physician before having the ability to purchase cannabis products from any of the state’s dispensaries.
When it comes to the types of cannabis products the lawmakers are proposing be sold in these dispensaries, Faison and Dickerson have stolen a page out of some of the most successful medical cannabis programs in the country, suggesting the production and sale of smokable cannabis, edibles, topicals, and pills.
Unfortunately, the bill does not appear to come with a home cultivation provision.
Earlier this week, attorney Doak Patton, who also serves as president for the Tennessee chapter of NORML, told MERRY JANE that all the medical professionals in the state legislature support the legalization of medical marijuana. He only hopes the rest of the lawmakers, especially House Majority Leader Representative Glen Casada, will listen to science before making a decision on whether to allow the bill to be heard.
There is some concern that the Republican-dominated legislature will see the proposal as a gateway to total legalization, which is simply not true, according to Senator Dickerson.
"What this bill is not is opening the door to recreational use; this is not a bill that will allow people to get high on the streets," he said. "This is, however, a bill that would bring a necessary medicine to some of the sickest and most critically ill Tennesseans."