Tennessee Lawmaker Pushing—Again—For Legal Medical Marijuana

Senator Janice Bowling is reintroducing her bill to legalize medicinal cannabis.
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A Tennessee state senator has reintroduced a bill that would legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in the state. The bill, which will be reintroduced in the Tennessee legislature by Republican Sen. Janice Bowling, failed to gain enough support last year.

“There are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans that could benefit from medical cannabis,” said Bowling.

Bowling said that constituents in her district have made it clear that they want safer alternatives to dangerous and addictive painkillers.

“This is desperately needed in Tennessee, it is desperately needed by the patients, and doctors need an alternative from opioids,” she said.

If the bill is passed, it would allow patients with one or more qualifying serious medical conditions and the recommendation of a physician to have access to medical marijuana on a regular basis. The measure would also establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis.

Bill Opposed by Law Enforcement

While a poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University in 2018 showed that 81% of the state’s residents favor the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, the idea is opposed by leaders of law enforcement, including David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

“There is no need in Tennessee to create a new form of medicine overseen and regulated by agriculture,” said Rausch. “I think all of us in Tennessee want farmers farming, we want doctors practicing medicine, and we want lawmakers making people safe and this would negatively impact that.”

Two weeks ago, Rausch testified at a legislative budget hearing that cannabis should gain approval at the federal level before it is legalized in the state.

“If it is truly for medical purposes then go through the proper way of getting a drug approved to be medicine and that is through the FDA,” said Rausch. “And if they go through that process and the FDA approves it as medicine we are out of the way.”

Bowling, who was once against the legalization of medical marijuana herself, hopes to convince those opposed to medical marijuana that legalization would benefit Tennessee. On Thursday, she plans to host a special meeting with the leaders of law enforcement to discuss the measure.

“I was totally against it myself when it was brought up in Tennessee two years ago,” said Bowling. “This is desperately needed in Tennessee, It is desperately needed by patients, and doctors need an alternative from opioids, opioids, opioids.”

Although Bowling’s bill wasn’t approved by Tennessee legislators last year, it did serve as a model for a new law in Alabama that established the state’s Medical Cannabis Study Commission, which voted last month to recommend medical marijuana legislation.

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