NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Frustration and passion played out today over efforts to legalize medical cannabis in Tennessee.
It came at a meeting about a medical cannabis bill called by state Senate sponsor Janice Bowling, but the voices from law enforcement made sure they were heard.
“You do not realize the murders and the homicides that we hear coming out of the western states over the wildcat farming of medical marijuana,” said Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin.
His words were aimed at Alabama state lawmaker Mike Ball who was speaking about why he’s become a passionate supporter of passing medical cannabis in the neighboring state.
“I understand your concerns and a lot of it is coming out of frustration,” responded Rep. Ball who is a former drug investigator.
The crime component from western states where medical cannabis is grown legally was just one of the concerns brought up by Sheriff Partin.
He wondered out loud about the major hurdle for law enforcement that cannabis is still being classified by federal officials as an illegal schedule one drug.
“Why are our congressman in Tennessee not doing it,” asked the clearly exasperated sheriff who said his jail is filled with various suspected drug addicts.
“Whether they do it or not, I am not going to not do my duty,” responded the Alabama lawmaker supporting medical cannabis. “On the recreational side, I do not want potheads running up and down the street and I don’t want it everywhere… but there are people who need it, who are suffering.”
Senator Bowling maintains her medical cannabis bill will address concerns of law enforcement.
She also knows a lot of hearts and minds need to be changed among lawmakers for the medical cannabis bill to gain traction this year on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill.
Top lawmakers in the dominant Republican majority like House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Governor Randy McNally have both voiced opposition.
They cite cannabis as still being classified as an illegal substance.