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Tennessee Lawmakers Planning Medical Cannabis Push

Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are eyeing 2019 as the year to legalize medical cannabis. Some advocates, however, worry the proposal might not go far enough for patients.

Full story after the jump.

Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature say they are planning to introduce medical cannabis legislation this session, according to a WMC Action News 5 report.

State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-District 16) and state Rep. Ron Travis (R-District 31) say they plan to introduce legislation in Tennessee that would legalize medical cannabis access. They say they have learned from the shortcomings of previous attempts to give patients medicinal access to the plant and they expect to find success in 2019.

The lawmakers’ proposal would establish state-licensed dispensaries that be open to patients with doctor recommendations for medical cannabis. First, however, patients would be required to get a cannabis ID card from the state.

“I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans. Our constituents can use a natural and effective option for pain relief that is not controlled or pushed by Big Pharma. When I see medical studies showing that states with medical cannabis programs had an average 23 percent drop in opioid prescription use and overdoses, I see a real option we can use.” — Tennessee State Sen. Janice Bowling, in a press release

“I’m glad more and more Republicans are doing it, it’s just you know waiting to see what type of bill it is,” cannabis advocate Lee Otts told WMC Action News 5.

Otts expressed some concern, however, that lawmakers may try to limit cannabis access to just a few specific conditions: “Why does the legislation have any right to say this medical condition is more important than this one?”

“It needs to be between the patient and the doctor,” he said.

Medical cannabis access for at least some conditions has been approved in 33 U.S. states, so far.

Tennessee is one of the few remaining states that has not approved any major cannabis reforms.

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