Pubdate: Mon, 12 Dec 2016
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2016 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Jake Lowary
Page: 1B


NASHVILLE - Medical marijuana will again become a topic of discussion
and legislation during the 2017 legislative session.

An announcement from the House Republican Caucus on Friday said an
official announcement will come next week from state Rep. Jeremy
Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, RNashville, who are
planning to introduce legislation about medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana has been a popular discussion within the legislature
in recent years, and support from both parties has been steadily
growing. Details about the legislation were not immediately clear.

Though the measure is being introduced by Republican members in both
houses, sources at the legislature told the Tennessean that it will
likely meet opposition from legislators in the GOP, including Majority
Leader Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin.

In 2015, the legislature passed another Republican-led initiative to
allow the cultivation of industrial hemp to produce cannabidiol oil
(CBD oil) that proponents say allows alternative treatment options for
seizures, pain and other medical conditions. Hemp is used in myriad
products from clothing to rope and others.

Since then, many industrial hemp farms have been created across the

A similar bill to allow limited use of medical marijuana died in 2015.
There was barely any discussion on the measure during the 2016 session.

Historically, legislative measures to allow medical use of marijuana
have been championed by liberal-leaning lawmakers or state
legislatures. However, Tom Angell, the founder and chairman of
Marijuana Majority, said the issue is becoming less partisan and "it's
not terribly surprising" that Republicans are leading the effort now
in Tennessee.

"Letting seriously ill people follow their doctors' recommendations
without fear of being sent to jail is a concept that appeals to people
across party lines, and polls consistently bear that out," Angell said.

A November poll by Vanderbilt University indicates a growing
acceptance among Tennesseans for less restrictions on the use of
marijuana. Seventy-five percent of those polled responded that
marijuana should be legal for personal use (33 percent) or legal for
only medicinal use (42 percent).

The results of the same poll in 2015 indicated 26 percent of
respondents said marijuana should be legal for personal use, showing a
growing level of acceptance among Tennesseans.

Faison has been conducting research into the use of marijuana in
recent months. Sources in the legislature say he's passionate about
the legislation and how medical marijuana might be used in Tennessee,
specifically among military veterans who might be battling
post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions related to their

Earlier this year, Faison went to Colorado to research Colorado's
legislation and outright legalization. He documented the trip on
Facebook, and interviewed people about their use of marijuana to treat
medical conditions.

In September, Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, told The Leaf-Chronicle
during an election debate that research about the use of medical
marijuana should continue. Green and Dickerson are both doctors, and
have previously suggested medical marijuana could be helpful to
veterans, specifically.
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