First vote on Tennessee medical marijuana bill delayed

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There were plenty of words exchanged about a much anticipated medical cannabis bill on capitol hill Wednesday, but no vote. 

A Senate Health Committee decided to delay their vote on the Tennessee Agricultural Medicine Act for at least a week, which will be the first major hurdle for the state’s new medical marijuana bill. 

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Janice Bowling and Steve Dickerson, would create medical marijuana cards for people with debilitating medical conditions, like cancer and chronic pain. 

Sen. Bowling paid a visit to the Senate Health Committee meeting Wednesday to make a last-minute pitch to wary lawmakers, and even some county sheriffs, who were there in opposition. 

Details inside the 68-page plan lay out how the state could eventually legalize non-smokeable forms of cannabis, like oils and patches, for a wide range of medical ailments from cancer and to emotional disorders. 

As part of the current language, the bill allows cities and towns to opt out of the program. 

The health committee also heard from advocates, including a pediatrician who called the legalization of medical marijuana as ‘another tool in her tool kit’ and an alternative to opioids. 

TBI Director David Rausch was among law enforcement in attendance who were lobbying against the bill. He called it an “attack on safety,” saying the bill is “not about” medicine and marijuana is a highly addictive drug. 

Each year, supporters say they are getting closer and closer to some form of legalization, but they have convinced neither law enforcement leaders nor the leader of the state, Gov. Bill Lee. 

No matter Wednesday’s outcome, the bill will still need approval from Gov. Lee, who has said multiple times he is opposed to legalizing medical marijuana in the state. 

According to Sen. Dickerson, a similar measure passed in Georgia on Tuesday. 

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