Two Republican lawmakers Thursday introduced legislation to make medical marijuana legal for patients with certain health conditions in Tennessee.
Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, introduced the measure that would only allow oil-based manufactured products, such as pills or lotions, while the sale of marijuana cigarettes as well as raw marijuana such as dried plant and edibles would remain illegal.
The backers of medical marijuana call it the Medical Cannabis Only Act. The two Republicans hope the bill will win over their reluctant colleagues. They also estimated at least 65,000 Tennesseans would benefit from the legislation.
“Makers of oil-based marijuana can isolate the substances that make cannabises effective and label dosages,” Faison said. “Marijuana oil products are much harder to abuse than the dried plant.”
Supporters say medical marijuana can relieve pain, anxiety and the nausea associated with some intensive treatments. Diseases for which marijuana could potentially be used include Cancer, HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Arthritis, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Tourette’s syndrome among others.
However, Republican lawmakers are split over the marijuana legalization in the State. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said he remained opposed to any form of marijuana in Tennessee, whether recreational or medical.
As many as 29 states and the District of Columbia currently allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Eight states permit recreational marijuana. However, marijuana use is still illegal under federal law in the U.S.