Republican candidate for Tennessee House of Representatives District 56 Brent Moody, a Nashville dermatologist looking to replace Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) as the district’s representative, tweeted a trifecta of support for medical marijuana and the two state legislators who have tried to legalize it in Tennessee:
I am in favor of medical marijuana and support
@DickersonforS20 and @JeremyFaison4TN in their efforts to bring this therapy to TN. I was told by a prominent oncologist ‘We need this for our cancer patients.’ That is a compelling argument.
Dickerson has failed several times to pass some version of a medical marijuana bill, but has vowed to continue trying. After withdrawing this year’s bill because it became “so watered down,” State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) announced a new approach and a new House sponsor for the 2019 session. This time he is joined by conservative House member Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro), who like Dickerson, is a practicing physician.
Terry served as Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee during the most recent legislative session and was a co-sponsor of Dickerson’s most recently failed Medical Cannabis Only Act.
Dickerson and Terry’s new bill is named the Tennessee Responsible Use of Medicinal Plants Act — TRUMP Act. Unlike Dickerson’s prior attempts, this bill would use a possible back-door approach to legalization through researching the efficacy of treating certain medical conditions with cannabis and cannabis extracts.
According to Dickerson’s statement to The Nashville Post the new bill’s name was very deliberate: “’The name was no accident—it’s more branding than anything,’” Dickerson told the Post. “’Most of the opponents of this bill will likely be from our own party. We wanted to get the Republican party’s attention.’”
The two legislators are reported to be against legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Nine states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use. Thirty states have legalized medical marijuana.
Washington state was among the first in 1998, to legalize the use of medical marijuana. In a 2014 report written by Dr. Charles Meredith, the state’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission Medical Director, could be instructive to Tennessee’s legislators that will consider the newest Dickerson/Terry medical marijuana proposal.
According to Dr. Meredith’s observations about Washington state and Colorado’s medical marijuana programs:
In 2009, US Attorney General Eric Holder clarified that the federal government would not prosecute individuals using, possessing, or distributing marijuana via state medical marijuana laws. Subsequently the number of valid Medical Marijuana Registry identification cards issued in Colorado increased by more than a factor seven between 2009 and 2011, from less than 20,000 to more than 140,000. Many believe the same pattern has occurred in Washington. In Colorado, 94% of these cards were issued for “intractable pain,” where two thirds of patients are male and the average age is 41. Observers have noted that there has either been a sudden epidemic in intractable chronic pain unresponsive to standard treatments –a condition for which often no objective diagnostic testing exists – or the law may have been exploited by individuals seeking marijuana for other reasons.
While RCW 69.51A [Washington state law] does not legalize medical dispensaries in Washington, state policy leaves the decision up to individual municipalities and their respective policies may vary. Whereas Kent recently outlawed dispensaries, Seattle is known to be fairly permissive of dispensaries and there has been an explosion in number and concentration since Eric Holder’s statements in 2009. A resident of Seattle, I pass by significantly more medical marijuana dispensaries on my commute home from work than gas stations.
The last failed Dickerson/Faison bill was similarly structured with a county opt-out provision whereby counties through a local referendum could allow or not allow dispensaries to operate in the jurisdiction.
Referring to the Washington Physicians Health Program, Meredith concludes his report noting that:
WPHP has been asked to evaluate several physicians using marijuana for medical purposes and in these situations neurocognitive testing has typically demonstrated that the physician in question is obviously cognitively impaired and unsafe to practice medicine.
More recently, a study published this year in the American Society of Addiction Medicine Journal of Addiction Medicine, titled Medical Marijuana Users are More Likely to Use Prescription Drugs Medically and Nonmedically, found that people who use medical marijuana “were significantly more likely” and have an increased incidence of medical and non-medical use of prescription drugs including pain relievers, stimulants and tranquilizers.
The study is considered relevant in light of the discussion centering around the use of medical marijuana to decrease dependence on opioids.
However, the study’s authors noted the limitations of their conclusions in the absence of “large-scale follow-up data on whether patients are using cannabis together with or in place of prescription drugs.”
According to a recent Business Insider report, there is big money to be made in the legalized marijuana industry:
Legal marijuana sales exploded to $9.7 billion in North America in 2017, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. That represents a 33% increase over 2016, shattering previous expectations about how quickly the marijuana industry could grow in the face of federal prohibition.
The report also predicted the legal marijuana market will reach $24.5 billion in sales — a 28% annual compound growth rate — by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online.
Dickerson was a guest speaker at a fundraiser for Brent Moody and has endorsed him for Beth Harwell’s seat.