Senator Steve Dickerson and Representative Jeremy Faison have been chosen as the co-chairmen of the new Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis, a part of the Tennessee General Assembly. The committee will be tasked primarily with determining whether legalizing medicinal marijuana is a direction that is right for the residents of the state.
“I think one of the goals is to make sure that the people and the advocates and the patients are aware of what we’re doing and make sure that they give feedback to their elected officials,” said Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who along with Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, are heading up a legislative committee to study the issue.
The group is expected to make their recommendations during the upcoming 2018 legislative session. Faison has already been pushing for medical marijuana in the state. He spent time in Colorado last year talking with former Tennesseans who moved to Colorado for access to the controversial medicine.
Even though the efforts to push through medical marijuana were there, a proposed bill did not get the support it needed to make it out of the Senate, let alone to the governor’s desk for 2017.
For this reason, the committee’s other task will be to educate other members of the General Assembly on the benefits and many medicinal uses for cannabis, in hopes that legislation will have a better chance next time.
“People over 65 were just so inculcated with the ‘Reefer Madness’ kind of thought. They often find it shocking to find out the gateway theory is a complete lie,” said David Hairston, president of Safe Access Tennessee, a chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, referring to the idea that marijuana use can lead to other harder drugs.
Recent polls are showing that support for medical marijuana has grown significantly in the last few years around the nation, with over 90 percent of people believing it should be legal. In Tennessee, the polls aren’t quite as strong, but are picking up with 47-52 percent of people being in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, compared to 31-42 percent less than a full year ago.
With public support growing, it is time for lawmakers to sit down and take a moment to learn the facts about medical marijuana, how it can benefit many different ailments, and even save lives. Cannabis is medicine – and Tennessee now has a new committee whose job is to determine the best way to provide citizens with access to this medicine safely within their state.