Tennessee will not pass medical marijuana bill this year, one of the measure’s main sponsors admitted yesterday.
Republican Steve Dickerson represents Nashville in the Tennessee Senate and is an anesthesiologist by profession. He introduced the Medical Cannabis Only Act in January of this year. If it had passed, it would have allowed Tennesseeans with certain serious medical conditions to use cannabis oil.
But while speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Dickerson said that the bill will not succeed this year, according to media reports.
A Matter of Votes
“Unfortunately, I do not have the votes,” Dickerson said. “Instead of dragging this out interminably…I think the better decision at this point is to put it in the general sub for the summer.”
The general sub is where unsuccessful legislation is in effect laid to rest.
Sen. Dickerson said that multiple amendments to the bill had weakened the measure and it would consequently do more harm than good.
“I fear that if we passed the water-down version of this bill, it would essentially forestall any efforts to have a much more widespread, much more thoughtful legislative construct for several years,” he said.
Matt Walczyk is a military veteran who uses cannabis to treat PTSD. He worked with Sen. Dickerson to help craft the Medical Cannabis Only Act. He also toured the state, meeting other veterans and patients while rallying support for the bill.
“It was heartbreaking,” Walczyk told local media. “It really would have been the safest way for a medical cannabis patient to get and use cannabis.”
House Version Not Enough
While being debated by the body, the House version of the Medical Cannabis Only Act saw its ups and downs. The bill almost died last month while being considered by the Criminal Justice subcommittee, who voted 3-3. A tie vote by that group would have meant the end of the measure.
But in a bit of drama, House Speaker Beth Harwell stepped in and used her power to break the tie, allowing the bill to continue further.
However, changes made since then have left the bill unsavory to its supporters. The House version eliminated a legal process for patients to obtain cannabis and the authority to regulate and tax medical marijuana in the state.
Rep. Jeremy Faison, a Republican from Crosby, sponsored the bill in the House. He took to social media to metaphorically express his feelings after Dickerson’s statement announcing the act’s failure.
“Sometimes you get to plant. Sometimes you get to water. Sometimes you get to harvest,” Faison wrote on Twiter. “I would love to be able to harvest but for right now, the TN Senate only wants planting and watering. Medical Cannabis is coming to Murica regardless of the naysayers.”
Final Hit: Tennessee Will Not Pass Medical Marijuana Bill This Year
Although he wasn’t successful this year, Sen. Dickerson said that he won’t give up on medical marijuana for Tennessee. He also vowed to continue the fight next year.
“I consider today to be the first day of the campaign to get medical cannabis passed in 2019,” he said.