Tennessee Poised to Make Cannabis Policy Progress

Tennessee looks poised to make significant cannabis policy reforms in the coming year with at least one medical cannabis legalization bill planned for January’s legislative session.

Full story after the jump.

Tennessee state Sen. Janice Bowling (R) said she will introduce a medical cannabis legalization bill in the upcoming January legislative session. Bowling said it’s time to join other states in passing medical cannabis, WREG.com reports.

The bill would allow the sale and cultivation of cannabis around the state; some qualifying conditions would include cancer, glaucoma, and PTSD.

“We’re up to 43 states that have legalized it and many of the states around us have legalized it. We are being foolish in the worst sense of the word. Just incredibly foolish and incredibly lacking in responsiveness to what is now readily available for people to know that this is a safe medicine solution.” — Sen. Janice Bowling, in a statement

Like other states in the Deep South, Tennessee has seen some cannabis policy progress in recent years. Both medical cannabis and adult-use bills were introduced in the Tennessee legislature this year. The medical cannabis bill introduced by Sen. Steve Dickerson (R) passed the Senate Health and Welfare committee, despite efforts by opponents to introduce “poison pills” to the legislation, Marijuana Moment reported.

This year, Democratic Sen. Raumesh Akbari also introduced an adult-use cannabis bill, while Democratic state Rep. Rick Staples introduced a decriminalization bill that would put the “legalization” question to a local referendum.

Outgoing Sen. Steve Dickerson (R), meanwhile, wrote in a September 2020 opinion piece for the Tennessean: “I have spent over 20 years practicing anesthesiology and interventional pain management and over that time have utilized methods of treatment for the worst pain imaginable. Some methods work. Some do not. And, most of them have significant risk and side-effects. That is why I have been a longtime advocate to end our state’s outdated prohibition on medical cannabis. It is past time for Tennessee to move away from the unwarranted fear of medical cannabis and bring this smart, safe, and regulated medical treatment to our state’s sickest patients.”

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