Photograph of the Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville, Tennessee.

Rob Shenk

Tennessee Senate MMJ Bill Sponsor Admits He Doesn’t Have the Votes, Pulls Legislation

The push to legalize medical cannabis in Tennessee is over after the Senate bill sponsor pulled the legislation from consideration because he does not have the votes in the chamber, the Tennessean reports.

“Instead of dragging this out interminably … I think the better decision at this point is to put it in the general sub for the summer.” – Sen. Steve Dickerson in the report.

The “general sub,” according to the report, is where legislation goes to die in the state.

“I fear that if we passed the water-down version of this bill, it would essentially forestall any efforts to have a much more widespread, much more thoughtful legislative construct for several years. … It sort of encourages individuals possibly to go out of state and transport this across state lines, which I would think is probably against federal, if not state, law.” – Dickerson, to the Tennessean

Last month, the House Criminal Justice Committee had advanced the measure but not before amending it significantly. Ultimately, the measure would not have created a comprehensive medical cannabis program, rather allowing qualifying patients with a doctor’s note to prevent being arrested and charged with cannabis possession.

Dickerson said he is “committed to the proposition that cannabis is a medication” and vowed to continue pushing the legislation forward in future sessions.

Rep. Jeremy Faison, who sponsored the House version, took to Twitter to voice his displeasure:

“Sometimes you get to plant. Sometimes you get to water.  Sometimes you get to harvest. I would love to be able to harvest but for right now, the TN Senate only wants planting and watering. Medical Cannabis is coming to Murica regardless of the naysayers.” – Faison in a tweet

Next session could bring in more cannabis-friendly lawmakers. According to a Times Free Press report, many Tennessee lawmakers are not running for re-election, including 14.1 percent of House members and 12.1 percent of Senate members. Both Dickerson and Faison have, so far, decided they will seek re-election.

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