Tennessee Democrats have held a major vote to support legalizing medical cannabis in their state. In addition to legalizing medical marijuana, Tennessee Democrats also passed resolutions in support of a number of progressive causes, including a $15 minimum wage and wider health care coverage for Tennesseans.
Tennessee Democrats Adopt Progressive, Pro-Cannabis Platform
According to the Associated Press, the state executive committee of the Tennessee Democratic Party held the vote in order to express the party’s platform and its upcoming legislative goals.
Executive committee members cited major concerns that prompted their vote on medical cannabis and the minimum wage.
But this represents a step back from Trump’s initial announcement that he would declare opioids a national emergency.
The latter would have given states access to the vast store of funds and resources in the federal Disaster Relief Fund.
The public health emergency declaration, however, is barely significant. That’s because it only makes about $57,000 dollars available for a multi-billion dollar problem.
Tennessee Democrats Want To Tackle Opioids, Poverty
As a result, many states are looking for alternative solutions to the opioid epidemic. And medical cannabis is one solution Tennessee Democrats are taking seriously.
As reported by the AP, executive committee member Gary Blackburn referenced the “growing body of research about the benefits” of medical cannabis. Blackburn went on to suggest that changing the law to legalize medical cannabis could help fight the opioid crisis.
Opioid addiction and abuse correlate strongly with poverty. New studies suggest there is a link between unemployment and opioids. As jobless rates rise, so do opioid overdoses.
Currently, the minimum wage in Tennessee is the same as the national minimum: $7.25 an hour.
And Tennessee leads the nation in the number of minimum wage workers in its workforce. About 117,000 workers in Tennessee work at or below the federally mandated minimum. Furthermore, Tennessee is one of just five states without a minimum wage law of its own.
Tennessee Democrats are aiming to change that.
One executive committee member, Gale Jones Carson (D-Memphis), said raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would help improve the lives of the nearly 16 percent of Tennesseans living in poverty.
Tennessee Democrats Begin The Fight For Legal Medical Cannabis
Republicans enjoy a hefty majority in both chambers of Tennessee’s legislative branch. So Tennessee Democrats fighting for legal medical marijuana face an uphill battle.
However, some Republicans are beginning to break away from their party’s wariness about legalizing cannabis for medical use.
Still, even small efforts toward decriminalizing cannabis have faced setbacks.
But with their vote to support resolutions calling for legal medical cannabis and a new minimum wage law, Tennessee Democrats are putting cannabis back on the legislative agenda.
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