Voters want marijuana legalized. For the first time since prohibition, the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization.
Here in Tennessee, we still do not have a legal medical marijuana program which already exists in 20 states. But now Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) has introduced legislation that would allow people suffering from certain illnesses to use marijuana as medicine without fear of arrest.
HB 1385, the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, is named for a 2-year old girl, Piper Koozer, who suffers from a seizure disorder. Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive derivative of marijuana, is known to be an effective treatment for her condition, but one that remains illegal under current Tennessee law.
The bill, if passed, would allow patients with doctor approval to possess up to one month’s supply of marijuana at any given time. It’s currently in the Tennessee House Government Operations Subcommittee where it needs five votes to proceed.
“This year, with all the discussion [about legalizing marijuana], I think we might have a chance,” said Rep. Jones. “Members [of the legislature] are getting lots of emails and letters from constituents who want medical marijuana — even in hardcore Republican areas, they want to be able to have medical marijuana.”
The law would allow medical pot for those suffering from: cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s. It would also allow doctors to approve marijuana for other medical conditions, as long as the state health department co-signs the approval.
In addition to allowing patients to possess marijuana, it would protect them from discrimination by their employer, landlord, or school. These entities would have to respect the patients’ medical care as they would any other form of medication.
As for critics, Jones says some lawmakers still have a lot of learning to do in regards to marijuana.
“This is about compassion. It’s about giving people better health care, giving them a better quality of life,” she said. “They think it’s all blowing smoke in baby’s faces, I guess. They don’t understand there are other ways to use marijuana, like tinctures and lotions.”
While some states are discussing all-out marijuana legalization, here we have yet to free up pot for those who could benefit from it the most. Helping everyone from cancer patients, to sick kids with debilitating seizures should be a no-brainer. And if passed, this legislation could pave the way for future legalization.