How likely is Tennessee to legalize marijuana?

Special Reports

As of 2019, only 17 states have not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.  

Tennessee is one of them.  

Polls have consistently shown Tennesseans overwhelmingly approve of legalizing marijuana in some form. 

Medical marijuana has the support of and is being sponsored by Republican lawmakers and President Trump, who said: 

“I believe that the legalization of marijuana, other than for medical because I think medical, you know I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason, the marijuana really helps them, but I think in terms of marijuana, in terms of legalization, it should be a state issue.” 

Nationally, Pew Research found in October 2018, 62 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, 34 percent opposed and four percent had no opinion.  

Republican State Representative Jeremy Faison, whose medical marijuana legislation could not gain traction last year, points to the president’s support as being critical, saying “ I said that before President Trump runs again for re-election, he will have given the decision of the cannabis plant to each individual state.” 

Which agrees with what President Trump has already said. 

“The marijuana thing, it is such a big thing, it’s such a big thing. I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree?  I mean, I think so and then I really believe you should leave it up to the states. It should be a state situation” 

A poll by Middle Tennessee State University in November 2018 shows 81 percent of Tennesseans approved of legalizing marijuana. Forty-four percent approved legalizing medical marijuana while just 16 percent want marijuana to remain entirely illegal.  

A president popular in Tennessee supports it, Tennessee Republican lawmakers support it, the majority of Americans and Tennesseans support it, so this should win passage easily but Tennessee is a conservative state with a very conservative legislature whose leaders, the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker are not supporting medical marijuana.  

New Governor Bill Lee is less than supportive, saying “I do believe that we have yet to really understand this full subject. I think we are yet to fully explore the use of CBD oils, low THC-level  treatments that have shown to be really effective and we are not fully utilizing those in this state yet. I think we ought to do that first before we look at something  beyond that so my view hasn’t really changed about it”  

As a candidate, Bill Lee said he would veto medical marijuana legislation. Now as governor, when asked about vetoing medical marijuana legislation, he left a tiny crack in the door.  

“Well I can’t answer a veto question unless I see a bill and I have not seen this specific bill so…” 

A very small crack, but it’s there, which means Tennessee legalizing medical marijuana has a chance.  

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