Two Republicans introduced a bill Thursday that would make Tennessee the latest state to allow medical marijuana.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, would only allow oil-based manufactured products, such as pills or lotions, and would not permit the sale of raw cannabis, also known as marijuana, as is common in other states.
As many as 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, have laws permitting the use of cannabis for medical purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
But the approaches used in each state vastly differ, ranging from allowing home cultivation to only permitting cannabis-infused products.
Eight states currently allow recreational marijuana. Vermont will become the ninth state when Gov. Phil Scott gives a bill his approval, as he has indicated.
The new Faison-Dickerson legislation would not permit any recreational use of marijuana.
“Now is the time for the General Assembly to embrace thoughtful, medically responsible legislation to help Tennessee’s sickest residents,” Dickerson said in a statement.
Republicans estimate at least 65,000 Tennesseans would benefit from legislation
Under the Faison and Dickerson legislation, patients wanting to receive any cannabis oil-based products would have to have one of the following medical conditions:
- HIV and AIDS
- hepatitis C
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS
- post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD
- Alzheimer’s disease
- severe arthritis
- inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- or a number of chronic or debilitating diseases.
Qualifying patients would be required to get a registration card from the state. Registration cards would be equipped with chip readers that allow law enforcement to see details about a patient’s purchase, including how much was bought.
The two Republicans estimated at least 65,000 Tennesseans would benefit from the legislation.
The chip reader would also prevent continued purchases after a patient reaches their dosage each month.
The legislation would also require any doctor wishing to participate in the program to obtain a license from the state. Participation is not mandatory.
State board would provide oversight
General oversight would be provided by a new state board — dubbed the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission — which would include doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement officials, educators and advocates for patients. The commission would also regulate the amount that could be purchased.
The Faison-Dickerson bill also allows local governments to hold referendums on whether to allow dispensaries. Counties that do not want to participate could opt out with a majority vote of the county commission.
“Some of our sickest Tennesseans desperately want the freedom to choose what is best for their own health, and they want to be able to make that decision with their doctor,” Faison said in the statement.
“Now is the time for a safe and healthy alternative to opiates, psychotropics and anti-inflammatories.”