Lawmakers meet to discuss future of medical marijuana in TN

NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL)- Thursday, a group of law makers will meet in Nashville to talk about the future of medical marijuana in Tennessee. The committee is co-chaired by Representative Jeremy Faison who serves Cocke and part of Jefferson Greene Counties. Faison said lawmakers will hear from doctors, medical professionals, and experts at the meeting.

This is the first in a series of meeting scheduled across the state that will review what legalization of medical marijuana would look like for Tennessee.

Senator Rusty Crowe, who serves Washington, Unicoi and Carter Counties, will also serve on the committee. Crowe said this is the first time that law makers will have an in-depth discussion about the issue.

“Try to see I guess, number one is there a medical need for marijuana and is there science behind it to show that there would be a medical need,” Crowe said.

Faison is pushing to get medical marijuana legalized in Tennessee. He said medical marijuana can help Tennesseans with things like cancer, post traumatic stress disorder, and Parkinson’s.

If it were legalized, Faison said a doctor would have to agree that you could benefit from marijuana because of your specific ailment or sickness. Then you would take that to the TN Department of Health and get a card from the state allowing you to legally get marijuana.

Faison said his plan would also bring an economic boost to the volunteer state. He wants to see controlled environments here in the state where farmers grow marijuana, have a manufacturing plant here, and a dispensary.

But there are some hurdles. Even if the state legalizes it, Crowe said doctors would be breaking federal law by prescribing it since it is a Schedule 1 drug. A Schedule 1 drug is something that is not accepted as a form of medical treatment in the U.S. and is considered by the government as a drug that could be abused. So some opponents of medical marijuana legislation said they first want the federal government to make changes.

Right now, opioids are considered a Schedule 2 drug. “If you look at the problems we’re having in Tennessee with Schedule 2 drugs, to add one to that list, even that is going to be difficult to convince a legislator to do,” Crowe said.

But Faison said state law could override federal law as it has in other states across the country. Medical marijuana is now available in twenty nine states.

“We don’t just do what other states do, we’re very very good to look at what’s the right thing to do and that’s how we approach it,” Crowe said.

Thursday is the first in a series of meetings leading up to the legislative session in January.

“At this point I could not vote to approve of it no but I, we all want to have an open mind and that’s what this is all about,” Crowe said.

After the meetings, the group will make recommendations about future legislation to the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2018 legislative session.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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