NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One of the lead sponsors of a medical-marijuana bill in Tennessee withdrew the measure Tuesday after telling fellow lawmakers the legislation has been so watered down that passing it would actually harm rather than help patients.
Sen. Steve Dickerson, a Republican from Nashville who is also a medical doctor, said he worried that passing the bill as amended would only forestall the full legalization of medical marijuana in Tennessee. The lawmaker told his colleagues that he’s committed to the proposition that medical marijuana is a medication that helps people with many ailments.
Dickerson promised to be back next year with a more permissive bill that would allow for the growing, processing, dispensing, regulation, and taxation of cannabis.
The bill was amended with the hopes that it could pass Tennessee’s conservative legislation. The new version would have required patients to get a doctor’s order and go out of state to get the cannabis oil. The original bill allowed for the growing, dispensing, regulating and taxation of cannabis oil inside the state of Tennessee. The amended bill also removed criminal penalties for possessing cannabis that can’t be smoked for patients with certain debilitating health condition who had a doctor’s order.
Dickerson cited medical research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that medical marijuana had many benefits with little downsides.
“I fear that if we passed the watered-down version of this bill it would essentially forestall any efforts to have a much more widespread, much more thoughtful legislative construct for several years,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally called Dickerson a worthy advocate for his cause even though he opposed the lawmaker’s bill. McNally, in a statement, said he was hopeful that the federal government would address the issue of penalties for marijuana and hoped a proper study and a national solution could be found on the legalization of medical cannabis.
“I look forward to continued debate and discussion on this issue in the years to come. I am confident this issue will remain a contentious one,” McNally said.
Dickerson thanked the House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jeremy Faison, a Republican from Cosby, calling him a tireless advocate for medical marijuana. Faison, in a tweet, said he expected the bill would get passed eventually.
“Sometimes you get to plant. Sometimes you get to water. Sometimes you get to harvest,” he tweeted. “I would love to be able to harvest but for right now, the TN Senate only wants planting and watering. Medical Cannabis is coming to Murica,” Faison wrote, employing the slang word sometimes used for the U.S., “regardless of the naysayers.”