NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cannabis legislation has been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly, again. The measures range from medical, decriminalization, and legalization of marijuana.
If enacted into law, Tennessee could become the 38th state with some form of legal access to marijuana.
This comes as Tennessee’s neighbor to the south, Mississippi, just became the latest state to legalize medical marijuana.
“My House Joint Resolution 742 would create a state constitution to allow medical cannabis in the state of Tennessee,” said Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville).
Powell introduced a bill allowing for medical marijuana use, he says he’s heard from Tennesseans loud and clear. “The reality is what we need to do is focus on helping Tennesseans who have severe chronic and terrible health conditions — their quality of life would be greatly enhanced with medical cannabis,” Powell said.
However, fellow Democratic Representative Bob Freeman is taking his cannabis bill a step further — complete legalization of marijuana.
“25-year war on drugs that looped in cannabis into that war has sent many people to prison, ruined lives, and it’s time we move past this and legalized it – 37 states have already done this,” Freeman said.
He adds, Tennessee is missing out on growing, cultivating, selling, and taxing what he cites is already a billion-dollar industry. “It could be a half a billion dollars in revenue a year for the state there’s some projections that currently what is consumed and grown in the state of Tennessee is almost $2 billion right now, obviously it’s illegal today and there’s no tax revenue gained.”
But there are some bumps in the road to get to legal marijuana. Lt. Governor Randy McNally, who presides over the Senate, says his support is contingent upon the removal of marijuana from the schedule one controlled substances list. “Schedule one has no legitimate medical use and it’s a high ability to cause addiction or dependency whether physical or mental.”
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Republican House member Bruce Griffey and Senator Sara Kyle, a Democrat, introduced bipartisan legislation to poll Tennesseans about their feelings towards marijuana on the upcoming 2022 ballot.
Previous attempts to decriminalize marijuana were killed during last year’s session.
A bill by Rep. Jesse Chism would have allowed courts to grant judicial diversion for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana regardless of prior criminal convictions.