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Supporters of Medical Marijuana Bill Face Strong Opposition from Law Enforcement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - The fight to legalize medical cannabis came before state lawmakers Wednesday.

“This bill is designed to help Tennessee's sickest residents,” said Senator Steven Dickerson who represents District 20. “Bring them off the dark street corners and alleys, bring them into a controlled and thoughtful medical framework.”

“We want all Tennesseans to have access to this important medicine,” said Dickerson who sponsored the bill.

Under the Tennessee Agricultural Medicine Act, the medicine would come in a non-smokable, oil-based cannabis form for illnesses like multiple sclerosis and cancer.

Doctors and health experts testified during Wednesday’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee and argued that medical cannabis would be a better choice to treat pain than opioids.

“We're not looking for a high,” said David Hairston with Safe Access Tennessee. “We want to be off those opioids.”

Law enforcement opposed the bill, saying it would lead to more addiction.

“They want to legalize a highly addictive, dangerous drug for people to get high,” said TBI director David Rausch. “This is not about medicine.”

Rausch said legalizing medical marijuana would create a gray market, meaning it would be grown legally here but sold illegally in other states.

Other law enforcement argued it could lead to losing federal funding, more crime, and drugged driving.

“Since the legalization of cannabis in Colorado and Washington, it's more than doubled the overall percentage of fatal crashes out in Colorado and Washington,” said Colonel Dereck Stewart with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. “We would think that the same thing would hold true here as well.”

A vote on the bill has been postponed until next week.

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