Tennessee residents may soon be able to participate in the medical benefits of cannabis after a few failed attempts. Tennessee Senator, Steve Dickerson, is a medical marijuana advocate and he has been put in charge of a committee that will go around the state meeting with the public.
There is a large portion of voters that are opponents of legal marijuana which predominantly represents the older generations in Tennessee. The committee led by the Tennessee senator hopes to educate the public about medical cannabis and learn more themselves in hopes that it will be a good fit for the state. Do you think you understand medical marijuana well enough?
Educating lawmakers and the general public will be a key component of the recently formed legislative committee tasked with tackling medical marijuana, according to one of the legislators heading up the panel.
“I think one of the goals is to make sure that the people and the advocates and the patients are aware of what we’re doing and make sure that they give feedback to their elected officials,” said Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who along with Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, are heading up a legislative committee to study the issue.
The committee, which was formed last week by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell, will study whether the legalization of medical cannabis is in the best interest of the state.
Dickerson said as the committee holds meetings throughout the three grand divisions of the state, the discussions will likely focus on different aspects of medical marijuana, including talks about law enforcement and taxation.
“The goal is not to have the same meeting (in the different areas of the state),” he said.
The senator said although he and Faison are still working on scheduling logistics, the first meeting could take place as early as September, with gatherings tentatively held each subsequent month.
Dickerson said he hopes the meetings will hear from those for and against medical marijuana all in an effort to work toward a bill that could advance further in the legislature during the upcoming session.
Calling the first medical marijuana bill he introduced several years ago “substandard,” Dickerson said each subsequent piece of legislation has gotten better.
During the 2017 session, Dickerson and Faison introduced yet another medical marijuana bill.
“This year, I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily going to be different in its thrust or its overall scope, but some of it will have refinements,” he said.
Among the many hurdles Dickerson and Faison’s legislation will have to overcome is opposition from older Tennesseans, said David Hairston, president of Safe Access Tennessee, a chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a Washington, D.C.-based organization.
“People over 65 were just so inculcated with the ‘Reefer Madness’ kind of thought. They often find it shocking to find out the gateway theory is a complete lie,” he said, referring to the idea that marijuana use can lead to other harder drugs.