Medical marijuana bill stalls in Senate

Medical marijuana bill stalls in Senate

Posted:

By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II
Associated Press

NASHVILLE (AP) - A measure to legalize medical marijuana has likely failed in the Senate.

The Government Operations Committee voted 5-4 on Wednesday to send the proposal sponsored by Democratic Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis to the Senate Health Committee. However, that panel has closed for the year, unless its chairman decides to reopen it.

The proposal would create a program for people with severe and chronic illnesses to be able to get the marijuana.

Sponsors say the measure would create the toughest access standards among the states that have enacted similar laws.

But Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson said he opposes the bill because there's still a chance for abuse despite the heavy regulation.

The bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Human Resources Committee later Wednesday.

"Colorado probably has one of the best tracking systems in the nation when it comes to tracking medicinal marijuana. That system is one that a lot of other states are looking at," explained Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong of Knoxville.

Current users say other, currently legal medications, do not have the same advantages as medical marijuana.

"I was on a dozen different kinds of drugs and there's a real problem with these drugs in that if you can't keep down a pill, they don't really do much good," said advocate Constance Gee.

Legislators are taking their time with the bill, making sure that if and when it does pass in the future, there are no loopholes.

"We've got to tread real carefully in opening the gate to anything and that's why you don't see the movement very fast," said Republican Sen. Becky Duncan Massey of Knoxville.

Lawmakers in the Senate Government Operations committee gave the measure a negative recommendation on a 5 to 4 vote.

They sent it to the Health committee which has already finished for this legislative session.

Supporters say they will work to pass the bill in years to come.

Some portions of this report Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 6 News Reporter JESSA LEWIS also contributed.

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