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Tennessee Senate Committee Passed a Marijuana Legalization Bill

A Tennessee Senate committee passed a medical marijuana legalization bill, with certain conditions, on Wednesday with a vote of 6 to 3. Two medical doctors, Senator Dickson, a Republican Nashville lawmaker, and Bryan Terry, a Republican Murfreesboro lawmaker, have introduced the bill.

This is the fourth such bill related to marijuana that is introduced by Senator Dickson in five years that has become the legislation. The bill would legalize certain forms of cannabis for medical use.

After getting passed from the Tennessee Senate committee, the bill will now proceed to a Senate Government Operations Committee for further debate. 

This amendment will legalize the use of different forms of marijuana for qualified patients. A medical cannabis card may only be issued to a qualified patient who is a resident of this state who is at least 18 years of age, has been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, and has met the requirements of this bill to obtain a card. 

The bill further states that- a qualified patient may assign a caregiver to assist with the purchase and use of medical cannabis. If a qualified patient is under 18 years of age, only a caregiver may purchase or administer cannabis to the qualified patient.

The bill also prohibits a person from acquiring, possessing, or using a medical cannabis product without a valid medical cannabis card issued under this bill. A medical cannabis card will be valid for two years.

The recommends setting up a new government body, the “Clinical Cannabis Commission.” The commission would consist of nine members that would manage the licensing marijuana businesses & dispensaries and issuing cannabis cards to eligible Tennessee patients and the patients of eight other neighboring states.

The bill -Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act would have allowed medical marijuana sales to commence in the year 2021. But the implementation of this bill is now expected to delay as the concerns put forth by Senator Bo Watson have put the bill’s enactment on hold until the federal government degrades marijuana from a Drug Schedule I to a Drug Schedule II.

Schedule I drugs, like heroin, are always illegal and are considered the most lethal by the DEA. In contrast, Schedule II drugs are deemed medically acceptable in exceptional cases like treating addiction or severe pain. For these reasons, Schedule II drugs can be purchased with a relevant doctor’s prescription.

Senator Dickerson, who has supported several failed attempts to legalize medical marijuana and who had also introduced four such bills in recent years, said, “We are doing the best we can with a tough situation, we are trying to navigate a minefield here.”

Another version of the bill that is not in accordance with the federal law has been scheduled to debate in the House health committee next week.

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