NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Republican state senator hopes this will be the year medical cannabis becomes legal in Tennessee.
While the “Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act” was not voted out of a Senate committee Tuesday, Democrat and Republican lawmakers both appeared to be in support of the bill.
“I can’t believe I am standing in front of you asking for you to vote for a medical cannabis bill,” said bill sponsor Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). “That was never on my bucket list.”
In front of her colleagues, Bowling said that when a fellow GOP lawmaker suggested she look into medical cannabis as part of her efforts to curb opioid use in rural Tennessee counties, she kicked him out of her office.
“Once I studied it, I called him and apologized thanked him because I had no idea the lies that have been spread about medical cannabis through the years and the truth that will help hundreds of thousands if not millions of Tennesseans to live a quality of life not available to them now,” Bowling recounted.
Bowling says her bill to establish a medical cannabis program in Tennessee is federally legal, would add millions to the state general fund and to agencies’ budgets, would put the state in a good position if cannabis becomes legal nationwide, and would help some of our state’s most vulnerable.
“It is actually a program that has all the checks and balances a reasonable person would want. It has all of the conditions that are known to be treatable with this product,” she said.
Bowling’s bill would include more than 30 different health conditions that would be allowed to be treated with medical cannabis, from cancers, HIV/AIDS, fibromyalgia, or even certain immune conditions like lupus or multiple sclerosis.
The bill would also cover PTSD, which members of the Tennessee veteran community said could keep some of our nation’s heroes alive.
“It has helped them overcome that lack to maintain their stability. It makes them useful in their family, useful citizens back in their country,” said TNVet.org founder and Air Force Veteran Bill Summers.
Democrats like Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis) said a bill like this is long overdue in Tennessee.
However, while other bills related to cannabis were brought up in the Senate committee Tuesday, only one vote on the topic was taken.
The committee didn’t approve Democrat Jeff Yarbro’s (D-Davidson) bill to decriminalize possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.