||| Pavel Aleynikov | Dreamstime.com |||
Tennessee's Medical Cannabis house bill was scheduled to be discussed at the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week since a quorum was not reached, the discussion will be rescheduled for next Wednesday before the entire committee. The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison, the 11th District State Representative. So far it's barely slid through, last week's vote was a narrow 4-3 win. Tennessee House Speaker and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell signed as a co-sponsor last week and in doing so cast the tie-breaking vote.
Wednesday's 1 p.m. eastern committee hearing was on the calendar but has been marked for next week. The bill, HB1749, would decriminalize the sale and possession of medical marijuana by licensed medical cannabis establishments and would also set in place rules and guidelines for how those establishments would be run. For instance, qualified recipients or proprietors of medicinal cannabis businesses could lose their right if they were guilty of certain felonies or if they were in arrears on child support or certain other conditions. The bill would also decriminalize possession and use of medical marijuana for qualified patients and establish a system where qualified patients could receive a medicinal marijuana card like is the case in states like California. In addition, it would establish a governing body to oversee the medical marijuana establishments, a medical cannabis commission.
Talk of legalizing medicinal marijuana in some form has been <a href="https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/13052362/is-support-for-medical-marijuana-lighting-a-fire-under-tennessee-lawmakers">floating around the Tennessee state House and Senate for a few years</a> now and for a time <a href="https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/pith-in-the-wind/article/20850631/bill-filed-to-override-nashville-pot-decriminalization">Nashville had decriminalized possession of small quantities</a>. 5th District Commissioner Robert Green was vocally opposed to the bill when speaking before the county legislative body, but many locals are fully in support. When the commission passed a resolution formally opposing the bill the social media response from constituents was an instant backlash.
Cocke County Mayor Crystal Ottinger called for a special meeting that ended in a stalemate. Several citizens were present at last Thursday's meeting, all in support of the proposed bill. Some legislators believe that <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2018/03/01/medical-marijuana-tennessee-lt-gov-randy-mcnally-predicts-close-vote-failure/385750002/">legalizing medicinal cannabis may assuage the opioid epidemic</a> that is faced in the state, as it is nationwide. Others fear that any form of legalization would be a mistake, but the Tennessean argued that the bill stands a greater chance of passing this time around as so many of the legislators are not seeking re-election.