State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) on Thursday shared her continued support for allowing medical marijuana after a vote was postponed.
The vote was delayed after Wednesday’s hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, WJHL said.
Bowling, of Tullahoma, is a co-sponsor of SB0486, the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act. The bill’s tracking information is available here. The bill will next be heard on Wednesday, April 10.
Bowling made her statement of support after law enforcement officers testified against the bill in the committee.
The senator said the bill would be dispensed as an oil and would provide for an alternative to opioids and would be monitored under a physician’s and pharmacist’s care.
“This legislation is about arming doctors and patients with an effective tool to treat a range of medical conditions and increase Tennesseans’ quality of life to successfully manage pain without the use of opioids,” Bowling said in a press release. “Opioids are highly addictive and are deadly. We were not in the committee yesterday to talk about the marijuana industry. We were there to present a bill on medical cannabis that will bring positive, life-altering treatment to people who are suffering. For them to conflict and conflate the two different issues and then to accuse lawmakers who support this bill of being untruthful, is disingenuous and inaccurate.”
Not everyone agrees.
WKRN quoted David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who opposed the legislation during the committee hearing.
“They want to legalize a highly addictive, dangerous drug for people to get high,” Rausch said. “This is not about medicine.”
He said legalizing medical marijuana would create a gray market, meaning it would be grown legally here but sold illegally in other states.
Another skeptic is Steve Gill, political editor of The Tennessee Star.
“Senator Bowling and others have legitimate concerns and interest in finding options other than highly addictive opioids to deal with a wide range of medical issues, but I would hope they would be cautious about being used by those who have a primary desire to promote the legalization of recreational marijuana and who are using children and medical claims as cover for their true intent,” Gill said.
“Colorado legalized high THC ‘medical marijuana’ and saw doctors distribute the prescriptions with reckless abandon to ‘patients’ who were more interested in getting high than getting legitimate medical benefits; and soon they adopted recreational marijuana that has caused serious problems for the state. The same doctors who have failed to limit the distribution of opioids are not likely to show more restraint with medical marijuana. There are low THC CBD oils and other cannabis products available that can provide huge benefits to those with serious medical issues and that do not include the “high” that is the actual desire of so many so-called patients. Those products should be the focus or our “medical marijuana” efforts at this point rather than being a willing or unknowing party to those who are actually pushing a different — and hidden — agenda.”
As evidence of the abuse of the “medical marijuana” system in Colorado, Gill pointed out that when adult use marijuana sales launched in January 2014, there were 111,030 patients in Colorado who possessed valid registry identification cards. As of November 2018, that number had dropped to 85,207.
Medical marijuana that contains high THC levels may generate revenue, but Tennessee WILL pay a price for that money, Gill added.
Bowling defended the bill.
“Studies published by the American Medical Association found states with medical marijuana programs experiences nearly a 25 percent drop in opioid-related deaths,” she said. “The opioid epidemic is a health crisis and medical cannabis bill can help combat it. The polls establish over 80 percent of Tennesseans want medical cannabis and we are elected to act on their behalf. I look forward to seeing this bill back before the committee next week and will continue to wholeheartedly support its passage.”
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