Medical marijuana bill gains traction in Tennessee

Medical marijuana bill gains traction in Tennessee

Posted:
The Koozer-Kuhn bill was named after a family who moved from Knoxville to Colorado so they could use cannabis for their daughter's treatment. The Koozer-Kuhn bill was named after a family who moved from Knoxville to Colorado so they could use cannabis for their daughter's treatment.
Local Knoxville representatives Gloria Johnson and Joe Armstrong are co-sponsors. Local Knoxville representatives Gloria Johnson and Joe Armstrong are co-sponsors.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Tennessee's medical marijuana bill now has a senate sponsor to help legislation move forward.

The Koozer-Kuhn bill was named after a family who moved from Knoxville to Colorado so they could use cannabis for their daughter's treatment. State Senator Ophelia Ford, a democrat from Memphis, has just signed on as Senate bill sponsor.

Local Knoxville representatives Gloria Johnson and Joe Armstrong are co-sponsors.

Johnson has a personal connection to the issue. Her father, Ron Johnson, a former special agent with the FBI suffered from multiple sclerosis.

The pain the last years of his life were the worst.

"They call it suicide pain because some people commit suicide because the pain is so tough," she explained.

Ron passed away last summer. But his suffering had a significant impact on Johnson, who, through her research, believes medical marijuana would have helped her dad.

"That's what really convinced me to sign the bill. If you see someone in that much pain and there's nothing you can do," Johnson said.

"We're encouraged to see a senator come on board. But we still have a long way to go. We have no Republican support yet," said Justin Koozer in Colorado, about the Senate sponsorship.

We asked Governor Bill Haslam his thoughts on the bill. He was not too optimistic.

"I'd be shocked if it went through. Probably not. I don't think it has a realistic chance of passing," Gov. Haslam said.

"It's interesting. When you talk to people, they really don't think it's a bad idea. But they're just afraid to tie their name to it," Johnson said.

The bill's gotten some criticism for not being strict enough. Representative Johnson disagrees.

"It's probably one of the most strictly written medical marijuana bills in the country. There are 21 other states that use medical cannabis. But this law is written so only certain illnesses can use it," Johnson explained.

For her, it's about helping people like her father, the Koozer family, and so many others.

"I think we should give it a try," she said.

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