Digital collage of the Tennessee State Capitol building, cannabis plants, and an outdoor statue.

Christopher Amrich

Tennessee House Committee Advances Gutted MMJ Measure

Tennessee’s House Criminal Justice Committee has advanced the medical cannabis measure but not before including some significant changes. According to a Tennessean report, the committee removed chronic pain and nausea from the qualifying conditions list and eliminated the provision allowing patients to obtain recommendations from physicians in other legal states.

The measure would not create a comprehensive medical cannabis program. It would only prevent patients with a doctor’s note from being arrested and prosecuted for cannabis possession; although police officers would still have the discretion to make an arrest. Under an amendment included in the committee-approved legislation, patients would need to obtain and carry a note from an in-state doctor in order to possess cannabis. The measure passed the committee 9-2.

The bill still includes 15 specific qualifying conditions, including:

  • cancer
  • HIV and AIDS
  • hepatitis C
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • severe arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • schizophrenia
  • or a number of chronic or debilitating diseases

The reforms are opposed members of the state law enforcement community and health officials, but the bill has bi-partisan support in the legislature. The original version of the bill, which would have established facilities to cultivate and dispense cannabis, was gutted by the committee.

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