Tennessee's Medical Marijuana Dies at Senate

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The outlook for Tennessee’s medical marijuana bill looked bright after activists earned a hearing before the state’s House Health and Human Resources Committee on Wednesday. Unfortunately, after the state’s Senate effectively killed the bill, Tennessee’s Safe Access to Tennessee was forced to resign in defeat.

State Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, withdrew the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act following testimony on behalf of the legislation in the House Health and Human Resources Committee. The hearing capped a surprising week for the bill, set in motion by an unexpected vote in its favor in a Republican-led subcommittee.

Advocates hope the late momentum will convince lawmakers to support medical marijuana when they return after their re-election campaigns in the fall.

“We’re all going to be out campaigning,” she said. “This is your time to talk to your constituents about this and ask them what they think. And I think if you all talk to enough of your constituents, you will see that most people think it’s a good idea.”

Richardson agreed to drop the measure,Senate Bill 251/House Bill 294, after a busy day that began with a review in one Senate committee and ended with testimony from two Tennesseans who said marijuana relieved the symptoms of their illnesses.

Neither hearing would have taken place had a subcommittee of the House Health Committee not passed the bill on a voice vote seven days ago. The vote handed a rare victory to medical marijuana advocates in a campaign that stretches back several years. [The Tennessean]

Prominent patients and advocates, including the ex-wife of a former Vanderbilt University chancellor, plead their case to the committee, citing their illnesses and the ways in which cannabis alleviates their pain. Evidently, their pleas fell upon mostly deaf ears.

The Senate’s stated reason for opposing the bill is because they believe the program will be abused. Which is an understandable concern, given that Tennessee has a huge problem with prescription drug abuse as is. But unlike prescription drugs, cannabis is not addictive, nor does it have many of the negative side affects of say, Oxycontin or Xanax (see: withdrawal).

So it remains a mystery as to why governments like Tennessee’s refuse to acknowledge the cannabis plant’s medicinal superiority to pill-form drugs. Yes, sort of like teenagers who steal their parents’ sleeping pills for fun, those without ailments will smoke weed. The difference is simple: one kills, the other cures.

Drug abuse isn’t going to magically dissolve anytime soon. A state should prefer its citizens smoke herb than ingest toxic pills.

You’d think that the state that immortalized the drug-riddled field of Rock & Roll would be able to grasp that there are a lot more dangerous substances out their than cannabis. That’s clearly not yet the case.

Image via Flickr

  

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