Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2017 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Erik Schelzig, Associated Press


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The treatment of her sister's back injury has
caused Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell to reevaluate
Tennessee's ban on medical marijuana.

Harwell, who is speaker of the state House of Representatives, told a
Republican gathering earlier this month that allowing medical
marijuana has come up as part of a discussion about how to tackle the
state's opioid crisis.

The longtime Nashville representative said her sister was recently
prescribed opioids after breaking her back.

"She was in a yoga class and came down out of a shoulder stand the
wrong way," Harwell said. "And she was, of course, in a great deal of

But after the initial doses, she wanted to stop taking the

"She called me and said, 'I want you to know that if I continue this
opioid regimen I will become addicted to opioids,'" Harwell said. "She
said, 'There was no doubt in my mind.'"

Harwell's sister lives in Colorado where marijuana has been legalized,
so she decided to send her husband out to buy her some of the drug,
which she consumed mixed with coconut oil for four or five days until
she felt better.

"So I have some personal interest in this now," Harwell

Harwell said she still opposes the legalization of recreational
marijuana, citing her experience visiting her daughter when she
attended the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"If you visit Boulder, you won't be for the recreational use of
marijuana," she said.

Harwell earlier this year formed a House task force to work on
proposals to address opioid and prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.
She said the panel will evaluate medical marijuana as part of that

"We're open to that, we're looking at that," said Harwell, though she
cautioned that the Republican group of state lawmakers remains wary
about the issue.

Harwell is running for the Republican nomination to succeed
term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam. Her Republican rivals include state
Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, and businessmen
Randy Boyd of Knoxville and Bill Lee of Franklin.
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