They didn’t have to pass it to find out what’s in it, but some advocates of medical marijuana were wondering if passing the Republican version was worth the wait after the legislation made it to the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The Leaf-Chronicle received a PDF copy of the legislation early Tuesday morning.
In some ways, the bill – HB1284 in the House and SB1248 in the Senate – breaks new ground for conservative lawmakers in the state in terms of what medical conditions warranted medical marijuana (MMJ) treatment, what parts of the marijuana plant were considered usable and in the types of acceptable drug delivery methods, like vaporization.
But MMJ advocates like Bernie Ellis, a respected epidemiologist and Tennessee farmer, hoped to see something that would benefit both patients and growers in the state. Instead, he quickly identified several stipulations that amount to a “poison pill” that would severely restrict access, or make access punitive, while allowing only the wealthy to take part in the benefits of growing, manufacture and sales.
Chief among his objections is a stipulation that patients undergoing treatment with cannabis products would have to surrender their driver’s licenses for the entire period of treatment. Anyone with a registry card caught operating a motor vehicle could have their card revoked in a hearing.
In addition to the drivers license provision, also included are steep fees for potential cannabusiness owners: Only 6 providers will be allowed statewide, and anyone who wishes to apply for a license to grow and distribute marijuana must submit a non-refundable $50,000 application fee, have a minimum of $1 million in escrow at all times and maintain a $5 million performance bond.
Read more about this terrible bill here.