A proposed bill aiming to make medical cannabis legal in Tennessee received positive responses from the state’s senators earning 6-2 votes, reported FOX 18 WZTV Nashville. Called the “Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act,” the bill proposes the legalization and regularization of marijuana for therapeutic purposes only.
State senator Janice Bowling and Representative Iris Rudder proposed the bill dubbed the Senate Bill 0854 or House Bill 0621. The proponents want to make sure that patients with debilitating and chronic medical conditions and symptoms can access marijuana treatments and treatment aids in a safe and regulated manner.
Patients are also required to apply for a medicinal marijuana card give that they have a qualifying condition. In the proposed bill, the list includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, muscular sclerosis, opioid addiction, renal failure, nausea, chronic pain, mental health disorders, and many others. Other states who have medicinal marijuana programs have similar lists containing more or less the same medical conditions and their symptoms.
This bill seeks to cover patients under 18 as long as they have the conditions required to allow minors access to medical marijuana. It also aims to provide licenses to medical providers, which will give them the right to cultivate, transport, and sell products to dispensaries.
Bowling, who sponsored the proposal, believes that access to medicinal marijuana is essential to these patients, according to Marijuana Moment. She said, “We should not be making criminals out of people who need help with their health treatment and they want to be addicted to opioids.” Bowling also highlighted that the current public health situation contributed to the urgency of legalizing medicinal cannabis.
She added, “This is about the people who desperately need it. This is about the $1.5 billion black markets that exist in Tennessee right now.”
If passed into law, this proposal gives local lawmakers the chance to opt-out of the program. However, they need to have a two-thirds majority. Moreover, they can only opt-out of having marijuana-related businesses in their area, but residents can still have cannabis products delivered to their homes.
In addition to the provisions mentioned, the proposal would also establish a statewide tracking system to monitor cannabis products in the market. It would also need a patient registry.
The commission is expected to create a framework for the program. Medical cannabis card applications should be approved by June 1, 2022.
After passing the Senate Government Operations, this proposal will be moving forward and will be reaching the Senate Judiciary Committee. Other marijuana-related bills did not have the same fortune as SB 0854/HB 0621. Within a day before the successful bills were approved, the Senate Judiciary shot down SB 0153 with a 5-4 vote against the proposal. It sought to legalize THC levels in hemp and CBD.
Meanwhile, other bills are looking to aid the successful proposal by establishing a medical cannabis research commission. However, it requires the removal of cannabis from the list of controlled substances. Like the therapeutic cannabis proposal, this bill will be seen by the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing the Senate Government Operations which did not recommend passage.