Tennessee will be the 29th state in the U.S. to enact a comprehensive medical marijuana program if a pair of Republican state lawmakers get their way.
Rep. Jeremy Faison and Sen. Steve Dickerson announced on Wednesday that they intend to file medical cannabis bills in the new legislative session that begins early next month.
If passed, the legislation would allow patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, intractable pain or a number of other conditions to legally use and possess cannabis after getting a doctor’s recommendation to do so.
The state would license fifty organizations to grow and distribute marijuana to legal patients through storefront dispensaries. Patient certification would cost $35 or less.
The bill details were first reported by The Tennesseean.
A fact sheet distributed by Dickers and Faison was silent on the issue of home cultivation, but did note that patients would be able to access medical cannabis in many forms, including “edibles, vape, oils, patches, creams, smokeables [and]pill capsules.”
The sponsors seem fairly optimistic about convincing enough of their colleagues to support the legislation in order to get it enacted.
“I really think this is a very Republican, conservative bill,” Dickers, a medical doctor, said at a press conference to unveil the bill details. “What it does is it gets the government out of our lives… We have sick individuals in Tennessee who simply want to be put in charge of their own healthcare… That’s going to really resonate in our [Republican] caucus.”
Faison agreed. “Republicans by and large say, ‘Man we just need to tell the federal government to get out of our life and shove it,'” he said.
Medical marijuana enjoys broad voter support in the state, as it does nationally. A Vanderbilt University poll released last week found that 75 percent of registered Tennessee voters support legalizing cannabis for either medical or personal use (33 percent supported full legalization, with another 42 percent saying marijuana should only be legalized for medical purposes).
Tennessee has become somewhat of an unexpected hotbed for marijuana reform in recent months. Local officials in Memphis and Nashville, the two largest cities in the state, enacted local ordinances to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana this year.
Separate from the medical marijuana push announced Wednesday, state Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D) recently revealed that he intends to file legislation to “support the ordinances of the cities while giving citizens the ability to avoid incarceration.”
And they’re probably going to need it: State Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an opinion last month saying the local ordinances “cannot stand” because they are “contradictory to state law.”
Under current state law, possessing small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.