Republican Lawmakers Aim to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Tennessee

Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives say they will introduce a new medical marijuana bill during this year’s General Assembly. According to Tennessee State Sen.Janice Bowling (R- Tullahoma), a robust medical marijuana bill is currently being crafted with the help of Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) from the Tennessee House of Representatives.

“I have been in the fight against opioids and pill mills. Opioids have become a tragedy for Tennesseans,” Sen. Bowling said. “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.”

If it passes the bill would provide a mechanism for qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana cards and purchase cannabis from companies that are licensed by the state of Tennessee.

Different from previous bills

Sen. Bowling said she wanted Tennessee’s medical marijuana law to pick up the slack where laws in other states fail. “I wanted a new bill that is Tennessee-specific and takes the best of what worked in other states and leaves out what did not. This bill delivers what I wanted,” Bowling added. “The legislature has not yet had that kind of bill to consider. The Bowling-Travis bill creates a fully functioning framework to license growing, producing and dispensing operations.”

Some of the provisions expected to be included in the Bowling-Travis medical marijuana bill include:

  • A ‘FastTrack’ licensing system with statutory deadlines to kick off the process of incentivizing Tennessee residents and experienced companies to choose either a rural based operation with a dispensary or an urban one

  • Establishing a self-funding commission responsible for regulating both patient access and the industry licensed to provided products for patients

  • Allowing residents to obtain a medical card as long as they have been diagnosed with a condition on the approved list. The card allows them to purchase legally

  • Well thought out regulatory controls on how cannabis products can be represented to the public, where and how the products can be sold and used, and prohibitions on conflicts of interests.

Polling across Tennessee during the last two years has shown that at least 80% of Tennesseans support access to medical marijuana.

The Bowling-Travis medical marijuana bill is expected to be introduced formally within the next few weeks.

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