A recent poll found 75 percent of Tennesseans support having a medical marijuana system in the state. Lawmakers didn’t seem to care when they shot down HB 1385 that would have given access to seriously ill patients with doctor’s recommendation. But, all hope is not lost, a subcommittee did move on a bill that is considered a “baby step” towards eventual legal medical marijuana access.
According to the Leaf Chronicle, HB 2461 was passed unanimously by a House health subcommittee and now goes before the full committee, where it is also expected to pass. The bill allows for a four-year clinical study of cannabidiol, or CBD, an extract of marijuana used to treat seizure disorders in children.
Tennessee isn’t the only state considering such legislation. CBD is a popular topic not only because the target patients are the youngest among us, and often suffering from potentially-fatal and debilitating conditions, but because CBD doesn’t offer a typical marijuana “high”.
The four-year study would allow patients in the state who qualify to gain access to CBD under the supervision of universities and research hospitals, with a doctor’s recommendation. The study will be particularly appealing to families with children who suffer from otherwise difficult to treat forms of epilepsy, families who may otherwise flee to states like Colorado that are more accommodating.
“I’m happy that there still might be some hope for Lexy and others dealing with epilepsy. But I’m also disappointed for the other people suffering from other medical problems that this new bill will not help,” said one mother whose daughter has such seizures.
For marijuana advocates, the voting down of a medical marijuana program was definitely a step back. But the potential for this CBD study is a good sign as it means lawmakers aren’t entirely convinced that marijuana has no medical value.
“We’ve heard a lot of anecdotes about ‘does it work, does it not?’ I want to know if it does… …I want the state of Tennessee to empirically determine if it does,” said Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah).
In the meantime, as lawmakers iron out the details of the CBD study, demand for marijuana in the state is still high, among those who medicate with it and those who use it recreationally.
Just last week, six people were arrested and charged with drug trafficking “hundreds of pounds” of marijuana from California to Mid-Tennessee through the mail. All are charged with conspiracy and a litany of drug offenses.
The demand for medical marijuana and recreational use remains high, and prohibition has clearly failed. Yet we struggle to pass a simple bill to help desperately sick people and their doctors prescribe this natural herb.