Medical marijuana bill stalls in state Senate - WKRN News 2

Medical marijuana bill stalls in state Senate

Posted: Updated: April 4, 2012 01:40 PM CDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A measure to legalize medical marijuana has likely failed in the state Senate.

The Government Operations Committee voted 5-4 on Wednesday to send the proposal sponsored by Democratic Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis to the Senate Health Committee.

However, that panel has closed for the year, unless its chairman decides to reopen it.

Medical marijuana is legal in 16 states, but the south has been slow to follow suit.

The Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act would determine what medical conditions qualify for marijuana use, how pharmacies would sell the drug and what licenses would be necessary for producers and distributors.

Sponsors say the measure would create the toughest access standards among the states that have enacted similar laws.

Some, like Republican Sen. Bo Watson, of Hixson, say they oppose the bill because there's still a chance for abuse despite the heavy regulation.

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Human Resources Committee later Wednesday.

The measure couldn't pass soon enough sufferers like Constance Gee.

The former first lady of Vanderbilt University is an outspoken advocate.

She told Nashville's News 2, "I'm just one of millions of people that have severe illnesses, chronic illnesses that could benefit greatly from marijuana, and I really hope that we could be, maybe we could be the first state in the southeast to legalize medical marijuana."

Gee was pictured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal for her use of marijuana to treat nausea associated with Meniere's disease, a chronic illness that causes severe vertigo and hearing loss.

Gee planned to go before the House and Senate committees Wednesday in support of legalizing the drug.

She said it is a good bill and is pleased with the regulations currently in it.

Gee continued, "I do from time to time suffer, you know, several days of being really dizzy and off balance and sometimes it's bad enough where I'm really… I'm so nauseous all I can do is lie on the sofa and after a few hours of that, it's like 'what would you do?' I mean, if you can take a couple hits of pot and feel a lot better, wouldn't you?"

Gee admits it's very scary to be so public about her use of marijuana for medical reasons, but feels strongly about the need to legalize the drug not only for her but for others like her.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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