TENNESSEE (WJHL) – A bill proposed in the Tennessee House has established the framework that would allow medical cannabis on a regulated basis for patients with qualifying medical conditions.
House Bill 0637 is sponsored by Representatives Ron Travis (R) and Jason Hodges (D).
Both Representative Mathew Hill (R) and Senator Rusty Crowe (R) have shown their support for the proposed bill.
“Of course everybody wants to help people. We don’t want people to suffer or be in pain. The challenge comes within the details,” said Hill.
Hill sent out a legislative survey across his district back in February, which included the following question:
“The opioid crisis remains a scourge in our community and across the state. While the number of opioid prescriptions has decreased, addiction remains prevalent. Would you support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal usage and as an alternative treatment form for opioids under the supervision of physicians and strict control?”
“My job is to listen to my constituents, it was a question I put in my issue survey as well as doing my homework on the legislation,” Hill said.
It is illegal for marijuana to cross state lines, therefore it would have to be grown and processed within Tennessee.
Representative Crowe says that’s one issue the bill does not cover, along with the proper dosage.
“The docs don’t know how to dose this. There’s so many elements to the THC, they don’t know how to dose it. So if it could be just a script written for a pill that would be great but that’s not what this is,” he explains.
The bill would create a Medical Cannabis Fund and Medical Cannabis Commission.
Taxes collected with the retail sale of medical cannabis would go to the following:
- 10% to the TBI for opioid and methamphetamine drug enforcement purposes
- 25% to the department of agriculture for programs and grants administered by the department that facilitate agricultural development in this state, including, but not limited to, the agriculture enterprise fund and the Tennessee agricultural enhancement program
- 20% to the department of economic and community development for community and rural development program grants administered by the department
- 45% to the medical cannabis fund.
Dr. Matthew Palmatier, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at East Tennessee State University, and teaches a special topics course called “Cannabis and the Brain”
He Discusses the neurological affects of medical cannabis.
“Part of the reason it’s a schedule one controlled drug is that there is this misconception that it’s this highly addictive drug and relative to the number of people who try it the number of people who show addiction is way less than alcohol way way less than tobacco,” said Dr. Palmatier.
He says from a research standpoint, it’s another medication to have on hand.
“People respond differently to different medications and having medicinal cannabis be legal and to have it as an option as an arsenal of things that we might be able to use to be able to treat people would be good,” Dr. Palmatier explained.
WEB EXTRA: Dr. Matthew Palmatier with ETSU explains the research behind medical cannabis in depth.
A person would not be able to acquire, possess or use a medical cannabis product without a valid cannabis card.
A medical cannabis card will be valid for two years with the option to renew it once it has expired.
The following are qualifying conditions for purposes of the medical use of cannabis under this bill:
- Crohn’s disease
- Muscular sclerosis
- Opioid addiction
- Renal failure
- Severe nausea or chronic pain
- Any medical condition producing cachexia
- Persistent muscle spasm, or seizures
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome
- Chronic radiculopathy
- Severe psoriasis
- Post-laminectomy syndrome
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Complex pain syndrome, including trigeminal neuralgia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease
- End-of-life pain management or palliative care
- Terminal conditions
- The following conditions if the patient is younger than 18 years of age: cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis; osteogenesis imperfecta; and muscular dystrophy.
You can read the full House bill below: