Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Traction with Tennessee Republicans

Tennessee, a state with an admitted opioid addiction, is making steps forward to introducing legal medical marijuana.

Reports from late 2017 reported that the state had an annually cost of roughly $2 billion for substance abuse. Could this be a partial reason for the delay in admitting marijuana to have an active, positive roll in medicine and healing? Of that $2 billion The Associated Press reported that $422.5 million were attributed to hospitalisations due to opioid overdose. Opioid is common in prescription pain relievers, an issue that many medical marijuana users successful address using cannabis. Furthermore, almost one and a half million went to hospitalisations for alcohol abuse.

Now, in the first quarter of 2018, Tennessee Republicans are making traction with medical marijuana laws.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a bill that is set to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes is slowly becoming a reality. However it first needs to pass through the General Assembly. Along the way it is sure to meet some friction however already some Republicans are showing their support.

Republican Jeremy Faison and Senator Steve Dickerson are sponsoring The Medical Cannabis Act, HB 1749. This is a bill that will enable patients to attain cannabis in the form of a chemical extract. The chemical extract will only be permitted in an oil form and will only be legally obtain if a doctors prescription is obtained. The oil will be strictly monitored and will only be permitted for medicinal usage. No other form will be permitted, especially not smoking of the plant.

Counties within Tennessee would still have to vote it in via referendum as a law for their individual county.

A Nashville Republican said on Monday that she would become a sponsor of the bill alongside Faison and Dickerson. Beth Harrell, the House Speaker, is just the start of many to come. Bryan Terry is a Republican, chairman of the House Health Subcommittee as well as being a doctor, has said that he too will sign in as sponsor.

He believes strongly in the bill and stated, “ I believe it is time for us to take action on the state level with regards to medical marijuana.”

Both Terry and Harrell are respected Republicans and are standing strong for the previously demonised herb. They are both quoted as saying that the herb has shown sufficient potential to be efficient in combat against seizures and in reducing if not diminishing completely other medical conditions.

Besides the health conditions it can address, cannabis can also be used as a tool to combat opioid withdrawal and the addiction thereof.

Tuesday will see the reading of this bill in the House Health Subcommittee. This bill will be alongside 20 other bills relating to cannabis. All of which have been proposed by both Republicans and Democrats.

An analysis released in late 2017 revealed that substance abuse as a whole costs Tennessee more than $2 billion.

Chair for the preventative medicine at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Centre, Teresa Waters, discovered that the bulk of the costs were indeed associated with opioid addiction. Alcohol addiction was also a contributor to a large extend. Teresa Waters addicted that the actual number could be considerably higher as her research was very conservation and her analysis as well. The state’s economy is suffering under substance abuse and with the latest in marijuana studies making marijuana legal in its medicinal form could be an answer to the problem.

Over 29 states across the United States have already implemented regulated medicinal marijuana and while much research still needs to be done, there is evidence that marijuana can assist with substance abuse and it is an extremely effective pain reliever.

A loss of jobs was blamed for the substance abuse as well and Waters is hoping that this changes in the foreseeable future.

Across states like California and Colorado we can see the impact that marijuana is having on the economy. With the legalisation of marijuana in those states, it has been seen that the economy can grow. Everyone from farmers to small independent businesses have a chance to develop in the new marijuana industry.

Moving beyond the job opportunities, marijuana is setting itself a good record for its medical properties. Marijuana rehabilitation clinics are on the rise as it can also be used as a tool or stepping stone for those addicted to hard drugs and substances.

Substance abuse is potentially lethal to the youth and future generations. The fear with marijuana is that it becomes just another substance to become addicted to. However this fear stems from irresponsible reporting and decisions and laws made by fear and based on no facts. The Hollywood movies of the 80’s and 90’s and also the early millennium did not help at all in their comic rendering of the stoner and marijuana.

Marijuana has a tainted reputation that may well that many years to fix however with the burst of studies and research across the United States it may soon become a known and accept herb used for its medicinal properties.

Waters hopes the economic impact of the epidemic drives more state lawmakers to think of the issue as more than a tragedy for families, but as a roadblock to a healthy state in the coming years.

“It’s really our future. Substance use disorder is killing our future. We want to bring in more jobs to Tennessee. We want to have a stronger workforce,” Waters said.