Nearly every day, you can find a news story of a new marijuana arrest in Tennessee. People being pulled over with pot in their cars, or found growing marijuana in their homes. Like every other state in the U.S., Tennessee has its share of marijuana smokers. And like nearly every other state in the U.S., the general population supports marijuana reform despite lawmakers and law enforcement continuing to fight a counterproductive War on Drugs.
According to a recent poll from Vanderbilt University, the majority of registered voters believe marijuana laws in the state should change. How they should change is a matter up for debate, but the consensus is that the current system is not working.
When asked, “Which comes closer to your view about the use of marijuana by adults?” 32% of respondents said marijuana should be legal for personal use. Another 44% said it should be legal for only medicinal use, while only 22% continued to support prohibition.
In other words: 76% of Tennessee voters believe the War on Marijuana is unnecessary in one way or another.
But obviously, the laws do not reflect the popular opinion.
Though the state passed legislation allowing for the medical analysis of marijuana a few months back, the Marijuana Policy Project calls the law “ineffective”. It “theoretically” establishes a medical marijuana system that would allow for CBD oil and products with trace amounts of THC (the component in marijuana that makes you high) for a very select few of the sickest Tennesseans. Further, the law requires the system to be University-based, something no single University in the state has stepped forward to be a part of.
While the state battles to balance voter desires with the seeming reluctance to make marijuana (medicinal or otherwise) available, police continue arresting people on serious and minor marijuana crimes alike.
Recently, authorities in Wayne County seized 10,000 plants with an estimated value of around $20 million. The growing operation was spotted from a helicopter above, growing on International Paper property. No arrests have been made, according to the Times Daily.
There is little doubt these plants were destined to living rooms and college dorms across the state. The demand for marijuana is high. And if it isn’t coming from local growers, it’s coming from other states.
NewsChannel 5 recently reported on a hash oil derivative known on the streets as “dabs”, “honey oil” or even “earwax marijuana”. The drug is extracted from marijuana using butane gas, resulting in a concentrated liquid with an estimated 80 to 90% THC.
As is typical with any new drug phenomena (or, new to the media, at least), local officials are sounding the alarm that this product could be extremely dangerous, despite evidence that it could be valuable for those with medical conditions.
The people of Tennessee and those who make policy decisions have obviously conflicting views about marijuana and how much of a priority it should be for law enforcement. But no matter what the public thinks, until the laws are changed, marijuana users risk serious consequences when found in possession.