NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There’s a push by veterans to get medical cannabis legalized in Tennessee, with some planning to speak before state legislators during a committee meeting Tuesday.
“Part of the issue is the state has recognized the usefulness of medical cannabis, they can prescribe it. But the patients, the veterans and so forth, cannot go forth in the state and actually purchase it, we have to go out of state,” said Air Force Veteran Bill Summers, Founder of TNVet.org. “To have all the other pieces in there except the actual ability to fill a prescription and actually manage the program within the state, those are issues and the last pieces we think need to be addressed this year.”
A proposal includes legalizing the cultivation, sale, and usage in Tennessee. According to Summers, all but two states bordering Tennessee — Georgia and North Carolina — have medical cannabis programs.
“The brain issues, the chronic pain, bodily injuries that would have probably killed many of our soldiers on the field, they now survive. But with that, when they get back home or after the trauma, they do have the pain, the mental issues, PTSD, and so forth. And medical cannabis is shown to help that,” said Summers. “With all the issues on opioids and other drugs, we think it’s time that Tennessee join the other 38 and recognize that this can help our troops when they come home.”
Summers says there are numerous veteran programs local, state and federal, trying to provide help for soldiers, and medical cannabis could be another way to help save their lives.
“Sometimes the issues of PTSD can be so bad, it’s debilitating. Literally, in the worst case you cannot function. Otherwise, they live with it, they try to press away through with it,” said Summers, adding the urgent concern for veteran suicides. “There is help out there. Medical cannabis may be one of the programs can help them, and that’s what we’re trying to overturn right now.”
The legalization of marijuana in any form has been long debated in Tennessee, with the state’s majority Republican legislature being historically against it.
“I oppose the marijuana and it still remains to be a Schedule I drug which means it’s against federal law to possess it. Now, that might change, but I’d still be opposed to the legalization of marijuana,” Lt. Governor Randy McNally previously told News 2 State Capitol reporter Chris O’Brien.