NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There were plenty of words about the first committee hearing this year of a medical cannabis bill late today on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, but no vote.
Instead, members of the Senate Health Committee heard short statements from both opponents and proponents of the legislation that has never passed beyond a subcommittee in previous years.
Supporters of the medical cannabis bill, like co-sponsor Sen. Janice Bowling, came into the Senate Health Committee with a new 68-page plan known as the “Tennessee Agricultural Medicine Act.”
She made a last-minute pitch to wary lawmakers and even some county sheriffs who were there in opposition.
Inside the pages of the bill — there were the details to legalize non-smoking, oil-based cannabis for a wide range of medical ailments like cancer, Parkinson’s and emotional disorders.
The health committee heard from advocates including a pediatrician who called it another tool in her tool kit and an alternative to opioids.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch was among law enforcement who testified calling the bill “an attack on safety,” saying “cannabis is not about medicine and its highly addictive.”
He told News 2 afterward that his words came after talking with his law enforcement counterparts in the 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis.
“They wished they would have never let that genie out of the bottle,” added the TBI director.
Co-sponsor Sen. Steve Dickerson said in every state where medical cannabis has passed, there had been strong law enforcement opposition.
He told News 2 the nine-member Senate Health Committee appeared to be split three firmly for the bill, three firmly against and three whose votes “might depend on the last person they talk to.”
Sen. Dickerson began his presentation of the bill by saying the Georgia legislature just passed a similar medical cannabis bill on Tuesday.