While proponents of medical marijuana in Tennessee have routinely tried—and failed—to successfully introduce medical marijuana to residents in the state, two lawmakers are open to a swift compromise in order to get some form of the plant legalized.
State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) and Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), have introduced the Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018, a proposed bill that would still disallow the smoking of traditional marijuana plants and edibles, but legalize oil-based marijuana products for patients with qualifying health conditions.
Medical Marijuana In Tennessee?
Senator Dickerson said the time has come for at least some form of cannabis to be available for medicinal purposes.
“Now is the time for the General Assembly to embrace thoughtful, medically responsible legislation to help Tennessee’s sickest residents,” Dickerson said.
Backers of the proposed bill hope the Medical Cannabis Only Act will sway those reluctant to embrace the plant as a viable form of medication. According to Representative Faison, oils are much harder to ‘abuse’ than classic dried herbs. Additionally, Faison contends that manufacturers of the oils have the ability to isolate the substances that make marijuana effective, as well as label dosages. This way, some patients could opt for a CBD-exclusive oil, which would not get the user high.
While a small sect of Tennesseans remains low on the prospects of legal cannabis, one recent Vanderbilt University poll shows that almost 80 percent of registered voters in Tennessee support, at the very least, doctors having the ability to prescribe medical cannabis to patients.
Representative Faison believes having the option of medical marijuana would provide a safer alternative to commonly prescribed, ‘traditional’ medications.
“Some of our sickest Tennesseans desperately want the freedom to choose what is best for their own health, and they want to be able to make that decision with their doctor,” Faison said. “Now is the time for a safe and healthy alternative to opiates, psychotropics and anti-inflammatories.”
If approved, the measure would allow patients with qualifying illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s Disease, severe arthritis, Chron’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, schizophrenia and epilepsy, amongst others, to receive a medical card.
Final Hit: Tennessee Lawmakers Plan To Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill
While Dickerson and Faison’s new bill would seem like a fair compromise, staunch medical marijuana advocate believes limiting it to only oils could be a mistake. Bernie Ellis, a longtime supporter of medicinal cannabis, explained that vaporizing dry herb is the safest and most effective way to treat illnesses.
“The safest, most effective and best-titrated way to use medical cannabis is to inhale the vapors of whole plant cannabis using a vaporizer,” Ellis said in an email. “The patient obtains relief within ten seconds and it seldom takes more than a few inhalations to obtain the desired relief.”
“Cannabis oils, if ingested, take 30-60 minutes for the patient to feel any effect, which often results in patients using more than they need to, increasing the likelihood that they will experience unpleasant side effects (nausea, disorientation) of overuse.”
While the Medical Cannabis Only Act is far from perfect, it’s an important step for legalization. Tennessee has been behind the times when it comes to cannabis legalization thus far, so any little victory is a big one. And considering Jeff Sessions’ recent nixing of an Obama-era initiative that barred federal interference in legalization, perhaps such a compromise might be in Tennessee’s best interest, anyway.