Since the success of Colorado’s cannabis industry, they have become an example of sorts for other states to look to when it comes to legalization. Lawmakers from multiple states have taken to Colorado in a quest to learn how legalization may impact their communities. But this time, Jeremy Faison, a Republican lawmaker from Tennessee, has a different motive for the trip – talking to former Tennessee residents who have moved to Colorado for access to medical marijuana.
“I just want to have the stuff to back it up and why we are losing Tennesseans to Colorado,” Faison said.
During his trip, which Faison has been documenting on Facebook, he interviewed at least two families and one veteran who had to make the tough decision to uproot their family and move for access to medical marijuana. The Seimeskis family moved to Colorado in hopes that medical cannabis could be helpful for their daughter, who started having seizures at six weeks old. After countless FDA approved treatments, the family eventually turned to medical marijuana – and they saw a dramatic improvement in their daughter’s condition, from 500 seizures a day to 50.
The second family was in a very similar situation. The Mattison family first considered medical cannabis when their daughter was in the intensive care unit at Vanderbilt University. When his wife suggested medical marijuana, Mattison watched a documentary on medical marijuana and soon they were packing their bags for Colorado. In moving to Colorado and finding the value in medical marijuana, they believe they made the right decision, and they make a good point – they were not allowed to have that option before – restricting their ability to do everything possible for their child.
“What Colorado has given us is the ability to be parents, to make our decisions,” Mattison said.
The third interview was with a veteran by the name of Matthew Kahl, who served in the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan. According to Kahl, over a four year period he was subject to almost 90 different prescription medications, none of which had nearly the benefits he is able to get from medical marijuana. In a message to Tennessee residents, Kahl said that “Cannabis isn’t a magic bullet” but that “if you give it a chance, it has the possibility of working.” Kahl goes on to say that medical marijuana “is a valuable medication that deserves to be explored”.
If the goal of these interviews was to show that people who have made the decision to move based on wanting legal access to medical marijuana are not regretting their decision – then Faison definitely got what he was looking for. Parents and patients of all kinds have up and moved in order to have the option of medical marijuana and it will continue to happen until it is available across the nation. Faison says that he may introduce medical marijuana legislation in early 2017 – and before he leaves Colorado he still plans to speak to law enforcement and state lawmakers about the impacts of legalizing medical marijuana.
Hopefully the recent decriminalization in Nashville and Memphis and this fact-finding trip by Representative Faison are all good signs that Tennessee is finally coming out of the prohibition era. While there is hope that we will see medical marijuana legislation introduced early next year, there is also talk of a bill that would hurt cities like Nashville and Memphis, who pass measures that contradict state law – so it’s really unclear exactly which direction things will take. All we can do for now is take comfort in the fact that there has been improvement – and there is at least talk of further progress within the state, which is a start and better than nothing at all.