Pubdate: Tue, 07 Apr 2015
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2015 Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
Note: Paper does not publish LTE's outside its circulation area


At long last, a medical marijuana bill is scheduled to be discussed 
Wednesday in the Tennessee House Health Committee and also is 
expected to be presented in the Volunteer State's Senate House and 
Welfare Committee.

Medical marijuana in oil form has been shown to significantly lessen 
epileptic seizures, especially in children like 5- year-old Cora 
Vowell, a local girl who last year suffered an accident that required 
her to wear a helmet contantly to protect her head against the nine 
to 12 seizures she now has each day.

Every seizure lessens Cora's mental and emotional growth. Between the 
illness and her steady intake of psychoactive drugs to combat it, she 
sleeps through most of her school day and has not learned her ABCs. 
Her parents want the option to try something else - something that 
has worked for other children in other states.

But benefits from the less harmful medical marijauna aren't limited 
to children or people with seizures. Medical marijuana has been shown 
to help those with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's 
disease, Huntington's disease and the pain of terminal cancer.

The bill, introduced and sponsored by Rep. Ryan Williams, R- 
Cookeville, and Sen. Steven Dickerson, R- Nashville, would allow 
marijuana to be grown, manufactured in medical products and sold to 
Tennesseans of all ages who suffer from debilitating medical 
conditions including epilepsy, terminal cancer and Parkinson's disease.

It would replace or speed up a law passed last year - sponsored by 
our own Rep. Mike Carter, R- Ooltewah, that permitted a pilot program 
to use low-THC marijuana cultivated by Tennessee Technological 
University as a therapy for epileptic children. Backers of the new 
bill say the program at Tennessee Tech has stalled, despite clear 
changes in public and political attitudes about medical marijuana.

Georgia passed legislation last week legalizing cannabis oil in 
medical treatment. Gov. Nathan Deal says he will sign the bill, 
making the Peach State the 24th in the nation to permit some kind of 
marijuana usage. Georgia's bill, however, doesn't allow anyone in the 
state to grow or produce medical marijuana, meaning eligible users 
would have to travel to states that can produce and dispense medical 
marijuana, then bring it back home with them.

It's long past time for medical marijuana - which is much safer than 
most prescription painkillers so heavily abused in Tennessee - to be 
legalized and regulated.

A Vanderbilt University poll in 2014 showed 76 percent of Tennesseans 
favor legalizing marijuana in some form, with 32 percent favoring of 
general legalization and 44 percent favoring only medicinal treatment.

Medical marijuana can be grown to accentuate medical benefits while 
lowering the "high" of ordinary pot.

Further, the regulations and controls on this new bill, including the 
strict seed-to-sale tracking and comprehensive state licensing 
aspects, are more stringent than those of any other state, and only 
fully-vetted, experienced and well-financed Tennessee-based 
businesses ( capped at six) will be licensed to produce and dispense 
medical cannabis.

Will passing this encourage crime? Not according to a recent study by 
the University of Texas in Dallas, which found that there is no 
correlation between passing medical cannabis legislation and higher 
rates in crime. In fact, it may even be tied to lower rates of 
offenses such as assault and murder.

There are scores of medications already on the market that are far 
more harmful than medical marijuana, or any marijuana for that 
matter. It is cruel and foolish not to use for good purpose what 
nature and improving research and technology has to offer.
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