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Medical Marijuana Expected to Take Back Seat to Opioid Crisis In Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ( - Tennesseans will soon learn about the latest efforts in the battle against opioid abuse. A bill is expected to be introduced next week by Governor Bill Haslam to deal with what's been called the state's top health crisis. It comes as a bill to legalize medical cannabis was filed Thursday.

The 70-page bill filed Thursday, called "The Medical Cannabis Only Act" would allow a variety of cannabis oil products, but not smoking of the cannabis plant. The measure establishes a 9-member commission to oversee licensing, regulation, and dispensing of the cannabis products.

Conditions where doctors can prescribe cannabis are numerous, such as cancer, PTSD, and Parkinson's, but the bill would allow the commission to approve individual requests from doctor for patients.

While the medical cannabis bill is ready, top senate Republicans have another priority.

“I appreciate the discussion around marijuana and its popularity amongst people, but actually more interested in how we are going to deal with our opioid crisis,” says Senate Finance Chair Bo Watson. “My attention is on the direct problem that we know exists today, as we sit here today.”

It’s clear from talking with top senate Republican leadership that efforts to legalize medical cannabis or marijuana will take a back seat to a sweeping bill from Governor Bill Haslam on fighting the opioid epidemic, expected to be introduced next week or so.

“I think in this bill you will see a treatment component, you see a law enforcement component,” says Lt. Governor Randy McNally. “And then an education component and I think it will be a very comprehensive bill.”

That means potentially an extensive public relations campaign about opioid abuse, help for addicts, and hiring 25 more TBI agents.

As for the Governor, we will hear more from him about all this later this month with his State of the State address.

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