NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Now that the Tennessee General Assembly has defeated efforts to legalize medical cannabis in the Volunteer State once again, the question some may have is where the conversation goes now.

According to Sen. Kerry Roberts (R—Springfield), he thinks it’s possible the issue will have more support as the years go by, as his position on the matter changed.

“When I first ran for office, I was probably like a lot of people and ‘no’ to marijuana,” he said. “We looked at it more like the whole medical concept was a thin veil for recreational use, and we were pretty skeptical about it. Then over the years, as products have become available and people have been able to go to other states and get medical grade products that they want, the feedback that we get is these products work. They’re helpful, and someone who’s in a chronic pain situation might get some relief from it.”

The benefits outweigh the risks, Roberts said he’s heard from constituents.

“We certainly hear from a lot of constituents who feel like they get relief from chronic pain, and they find themselves driving to other states,” he told News 2. “It just seems to me that if someone’s in a lot of pain, and they find a solution to this, that that’s something they ought to be able to source here in Tennessee and that we authorize, tax, and sell, and they don’t have to drive to Illinois or some other state to get it.”

The most recent effort to legalize medical cannabis failed in a Senate committee hearing last week, with Roberts as the only Republican on the committee to support the measure. He joined Memphis Democrats Sara Kyle and London Lamar in supporting the proposal from Tullahoma Republican Janice Bowling. Republican Senators Todd Gardenhire, John Lundberg, Dawn White, Paul Rose, John Stevens and Brent Taylor all opposed the bill, killing it for this legislative session.

Roberts said while he couldn’t speak for his colleagues’ rationale, he suspected there was some hesitance to support statewide legalization of medical cannabis use due to federal restrictions on the drug. The Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSC, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote.

“If you think about this being scheduled from a federal standpoint, there’s a lot of opposition that would go away if the federal government would make some decisions at their end on this,” Roberts said. “You have to keep that in mind when you think about [state-level] opposition, because we are talking about doing things that kind of buck the national regulations here. I think if you look at it in that context, I think it’s not surprising that some people would be against it. If the feds change their stance, I think you’d see a real rapid change on this.”

While Roberts is supportive of the measure, he also said he recognizes there is always potential for abuse of any future adopted rules on medical cannabis in Tennessee.

“So some of the medical people want it for recreational use? Sure they do,” he said. “Do some of the recreational people want it for medical use? Of course they do. But this bill is about medical use, and I don’t have any problem with supporting the bill.”

He also reiterated that he would not be in support of a full recreational legalization in the state.

Instead, Roberts focused on the benefits veterans can experience with the use of medical cannabis, which was a large proponent of his support for the measure. He offered a message of hope to those veterans and chronic pain sufferers who were disappointed at this year’s committee vote.

“We have a lot of veterans across the state that are very supportive of medical cannabis, and to them I’d say, ‘Keep the fight. Don’t lose faith in what you’re doing,'” he said. “For anyone who’s suffering from chronic pain, and they’re hoping that Tennessee will change our law with respect to this, just keep coming back. Keep fighting the fight. Keep talking to legislators.”

While not all the legislators they speak to may change their minds, Roberts said having that personal connection to relate to issues was important, because he and his colleagues do take those into consideration when weighing out issues on Capitol Hill.

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“Keep sharing your personal experience. Let them know what you’re having to do for relief of your pain – if you’re having to go to another state to buy these products,” he said. “Just make it familiar to a legislator and put a face to this. Let them know who you are; let them know what your experience is. Maybe, eventually, they’ll change their mind. Maybe they won’t. Just make sure that they have this one-on-one connection with you and the experience that you have.”

Roberts added that if the bill comes up again next year, he’ll support it then, as well.

“I felt very good about supporting it [this year], and I suppose, if it comes back again next year, I’ll vote for it again.”

Bowling previously told News 2’s Chris O’Brien she did intend to bring the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act back up next year.

Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.

What lawmakers had to say about: Abortion Ban Clarification | Marijuana Reform | Transgender Therapy and LGBTQ+ Rights | Dept. of Children’s Services | Education | Crime/Public Safety | More

You can also find daily coverage from the session here.