Bill Could Mean End of the No Bud Blues in Memphis

A Medical Cannabis Commission will be created within the Department of Public Health to oversee the implementation of the law during the licensing process, and the quality control of the medicine making it to the shelves moving forward.

A bill recently introduced in the Tennessee state senate could fully decriminalize medical marijuana and establish comprehensive regulations for cultivation and distribution. Full potency cannabis medicine would finally be available in a state that currently offers restrictive CBD-only access to certain patients.

Every week more lawmakers in traditionally conservative states are coming on board to champion the cause of medical cannabis. This week was Tennessee’s turn. 

The Medical Cannabis Act of 2017 is being introduced by bill sponsors in both of the state’s legislative chambers; by Representative Jeremy Faison in the general assembly and state Sen. Steve Dickerson in the Tennessee senate.

The bill would decriminalize growing, manufacturing, dispensing and usage of the whole cannabis plant for certain individuals. The current list of conditions and symptoms that would be covered under the MCA stands at a dozen and includes Cancer, PTSD, and Refractory Seizures.

Faison laid out the basic framework of the bill online. It takes an extremely progressive approach to the medicines allowed and would cover access to all forms of the plant including oils, flower, hash, edibles, topicals and vaporizers.

Dickerson, who is also a physician, said in a Safe Access Tennessee statement that it was crucial to get safe access as soon as possible. 

“As a doctor, I see patients every day who will benefit directly from this needed medicine,” the statement read. “Now is the time for our state to pass this bill and provide relief to “Tennessee patients.”

A Medical Cannabis Commission will be created within the Department of Public Health to oversee the implementation of the law during the licensing process, and the quality control of the medicine making it to the shelves moving forward.

Faison told supporters the commission, “is to be the centralized authority for Medical Cannabis program.”

The bill also provides for a robust distribution program in which a maximum of 150 dispensaries would be permitted statewide. Dispensaries will be able to contract with any grower licensed by the state and will not be required to have dedicated in-house grower and/or closed loop system as seen in other places. All products will be subject to a 5% sales tax paid to the state.

The cannabis will be produced by one of the up to fifty grows the state plans on licensing. The license for the first fifteen of them have to be given to businesses located in one of the state’s twenty most economically distressed county.

The grows will be able to have one dispensary on site and open two more store fronts. This will provide a major number of jobs to the countries who need it the most, but still spread the love for folks hoping to get employed helping patients in other counties.

Some artisans cultivators may choose not to have a dispensary at all and focus solely on producing the medicine. 

Faison put out a call to all those who stand to benefit from the bill passing to help them get it through.

“We need every patient who desires the freedom to choose a cannabis-based medicine in conjunction with their Doctor to call their State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017,” he said. 

Tom Angell, Chairman of Marijuana Majority, said traditionally the patients who’ve taken the risk of coming forward in the past have played major roles in pushing medical cannabis forward in legislative efforts.

“There are no voices more important in the debate about medical cannabis than the patients who will be able to benefit from it themselves,” he said. “I saw this in Rhode Island, where my mom, who has multiple sclerosis, was an incredibly effective advocate in convincing the legislature to let her follow her doctor’s recommendation without risking being jailed for it. If enough patients in Tennessee speak up and share their stories, lawmakers will have no choice but to listen”

From Texas all the way to Ireland, patients of all ages have been the most important force in making the recent gains for safe access a reality.

TELL US, how are you helping to make medical cannabis happen?

Jimi Devine has been involved in cannabis reform since 2005 and has worked in the Berkeley cannabis industry since 2009 when he moved to California from Lynn, Massachusetts. Currently serving as Staff Writer here at Cannabis Now, you can also find his writings on cannabis products and policy in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Hill, The Chronicle of High Education, GreenState.com, Marijuana.com, 7x7 Magazine, and in Ed Rosenthal's most recent book This Bud's for You. Jimi has a BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Franklin Pierce University.

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