Much to the delight of the pro-pot activist base, Tennessee State Sen. Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) and State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) introduced a controversial measure Thursday that seeks to legalize a certain form of marijuana to be used for medical purposes, dubbed, “Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018” (SB1710).
The Nashville Business Journal reports that the Act requires several safeguards to closely monitor and restrict the manufacture, distribution, prescription, and dispensing of the drug:
According to the bill, an electronic verification system would be established through which qualifying patients would receive a registration identification card. Using card readers, cannabis establishments and law enforcement would be able see, in real time, how much cannabis the patient was allowed to purchase, as well as when and where the purchase occurred. Once reaching their dosage per month, the patient would not be able to use the card for the remainder of the time. If a patient possessed more than the dosage amount, criminal drug possession laws would then apply.
Furthermore, the Act empowers counties to opt-out from allowing dispensaries to operate in their jurisdictions, and for those counties that do, local governments may choose – through a local referendum – to allow (or not) dispensaries.
The Journal reports the legislation is narrowly tailored to only permit the use of cannabis oil and oil-based products to a restricted list of patients with certain ailments, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, ALS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, severe arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.
As for oversight and administration, the Act establishes a nine-member Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission (TMCC), funded by license and application fees,and comprised of appointees by the from the governor, lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House. Qualified Commission candidates would be subject matter experts such as doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement officials, educators and patient advocates. Additionally, prospective Medical Cannabis Commissioners would be have to exceed 30 years old and be a resident of Tennessee for at least five years. At least one of the nine-member body would have to be at least 60 years old, and at least one would have to be a racial minority.
The TMCC’s duties would include issuing all licenses – including qualifying physicians, pharmacists, laboratories and other businesses – as well as registration cards to patients. They would also be responsible for conducting continuing education, establishing dosing standards and possibly facilitating research and sponsoring clinical trials in cooperation with higher education facilities and authorized vendors, the Journal reports.