The conservative state of Tennessee saw their chance to legalize medical marijuana this session – but there just wasn’t quite enough support for it to make it out of legislature so the bill has been set aside for another time and further review and discussion. Introduced by Representative Jeremy Faison, the bill would have allowed medical cannabis for patients with one of many qualifying conditions and while he believes there was enough support in the House, things were not so positive in the Senate where the bill would have likely run into issues.
“The Senate, bless their heart, are just scared to death of their voters,” Faison said Tuesday after the House Health Committee punted a non-binding marijuana-related resolution to summer study.
Oddly enough, if voters are the concern then it might actually be worse for senators and representatives to be against medical marijuana. According to a poll conducted by Tennesseans Conservative Action, 52% of those polled (who have previously been described as “hardcore tea party republicans”) are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, leaving 31% opposed and only 17% undecided on the issue. From the sound of it, even the republican party should be aware that their opposition is against the views of the majority of voters.
This last week the bill was under review by the House Health Committee, who heard testimony on both sides of the issue – the main argument against it being that there is not enough conclusive research on the matter, especially when it pertains to the connection between medical marijuana access and a reduction in opioid abuse. For now, instead of legalizing medical cannabis for patients who need it, they have settled on putting together a task force that will hopefully educate other lawmakers on the benefits for those who would use medical marijuana.
“That plant – it’s not killing us, it’s the legal prescriptions that are killing us,” he said.
The vision for this medical marijuana bill was that it would have allowed the plant as medicine for a number of patients who would benefit the most from it, while also helping to create jobs and boost the economy in the most economically distressed areas. Allowing 50 cultivation facilities in total, it would have started out in these more depressed areas. But now, the hopes of reducing opiate use and creating new jobs is put on hold as it has been for many years, waiting on more “conclusive” research (or for lawmakers to realize a lot of it’s already out there).