Two Tennessee lawmakers just introduced a bill seeking to legalize medical cannabis in the state. The Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018 was put on the table by State Senator Steve Dickerson and Representative Jeremy Faison.
The Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018 proposes to give patients in Tennessee with certain health conditions access to safe and regulated medical cannabis products. Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, ALS, severe arthritis, Chron’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, ulcerative colitis, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, among others.
The bill also stipulates the creation of an independent commission that is made up of doctors, law enforcement officials, pharmacists, patient advocates, and educators. This nine-member commission will regulate and license the medical cannabis industry, and its specific tasks include issuing registration cards to patients with qualifying ailments.
Registration cards will contain real-time tracking technology with chips and card readers that are similar to those in the Department of Health’s controlled substance monitoring database.
“Some of the very sick Tennesseans are desperate for the freedom to choose what they think is the best for their health. These patients want to be able to make health- and treatment-related decisions with their doctor.” – Representative Jeremy Faison
The commission is going to be appointed by the governor, the Speaker of the House, and the lieutenant governor, and it will be funded by application fees and license fees.
According to Rep. Faison, a county or a city would be permitted to have a dispensary, although it would not be mandatory. He also noted that almost 80 percent of Tennessee’s registered voters support at least allowing medical cannabis treatments, citing a polling data from Vanderbilt University.
Faison further pointed out that some of the very sick Tennesseans are desperate for the freedom to choose what they think is the best for their health. These patients want to be able to make health- and treatment-related decisions with their doctor. He added that now is the time to allow patients a healthy and safe alternative to psychotropics, anti-inflammatories, and opiates.
Faison and Dickerson led the Medical Cannabis Task Force for the State General Assembly last year in the fall.
Following in the footsteps of other states
This exciting news on Tennessee is just the latest in a series of developments relating to states pushing for cannabis reform and joining in on the cannabis legalization movement.
Just last week, Kentucky congressmen submitted a bill to the House of Representatives that would legalize the use, sale, and production of medical cannabis in the state.
New Hampshire is also well on its way to becoming a fully legalized state when its House of Representatives approved a legislation that would make the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes legal. Medical cannabis has been legal in New Hampshire since 2013.
Moreover, the House of Representatives in Vermont has also passed a recreational cannabis legalization bill.
Things are also looking up for New York, when a legislative assembly convened a public hearing on arguments related to cannabis legalization in the state.
There are currently 29 states, plus Washington D.C., that have already approved the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of symptoms associated with medical ailments.
All of these developments come amidst U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum. The Cole Memorandum is a policy put into place by the Obama Administration stipulating that federal authorities should not interfere with legalized states and should place low priority on the enforcement of federal cannabis law against businesses, organizations, and individuals who are in compliance with state law.
Sessions, who is vocally against cannabis, has issued a directive to U.S. attorneys to devote federal resources in the enforcement of federal laws, which are still far from being cannabis-friendly.