House Panel OKs, Advances Medical Cannabis Bill

Over the objections of law enforcement and health officials, a second House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would legally allow some Tennesseans to use medical cannabis.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison, RCrosby, would give those suffering from roughly a dozen maladies a legal defense if they are arrested and prosecuted for having cannabis, provided they have a doctor’s note prescribing the product.

The House Criminal Justice Committee advanced the legislation with a 9-2 vote.

Voting in favor were Reps. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville; Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis; Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis; Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville; Jim Coley, R-Bartlett; Mary Littleton, R-Dickson; Michael Curcio, R-Dickson; Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough; and Rep. Tilman Goins, R-Morristown.

Voting against the measure were Reps. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, and Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta.

The committee’s vote comes one week after Faison introduced a significantly altered version of the bill.

The bill was further amended Wednesday to eliminate a provision that would allow people to obtain medical cards from other states in order to legally hold cannabis in Tennessee.

That means only those with a doctor’s note would be able to legally carry and use cannabis.

Faison further amended the measure to eliminate chronic pain and nausea from the list of acceptable maladies.

The original version of the bill outlined a program that would have required eligible patients to obtain registration card, equipped with a chip reader, from the state.

It would have also required participating doctors to obtain a license from the state.

The original bill was previously approved by a subcommittee thanks to a tie-breaking vote from House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville.

Neither version of the bill allowed recreational use of marijuana in Tennessee.

Faison’s changes to the bill resulted in him getting support from at least two committee members — Farmer and Van Huss — who said they now approve of the legislation.

Law enforcement and state health officials have objected to both versions of the legislation.

Advocates of the legislation argue medical marijuana can help combat the opioid crisis that continues to plague the state.

One witness, Andrea Houser, said Wednesday she had experienced seizures for years said she was forced to illegally obtain marijuana. When she did, Houser said her seizures stopped.

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