Tennessee state Rep. Sherry Jones has stepped up to the plate for medical marijuana supporters in her state by introducing a bill that would legalize the plant for medical uses with a doctor's recommendation. Now she just needs a state Senator to back her.
Attitudes on pot in Tenn. haven't changed much since this photo was taken.
Language of the bill is not available at the state legislative site yet, but Jones says her bill will set qualifying conditions for medical cannabis as well as legalize the creation of state-regulated "pharmacies" to sell organically-grown herb to patients.
"It's just simply a matter of being rational and compassionate," Jones, a Democrat from Nashville told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "It would apply to only the most severely debilitated people ... children suffering a hundred (epileptic) seizures a day, people on chemotherapy, people with multiple sclerosis ... people with a plethora of diseases."
She admits that many of those people are already accessing cannabis to help treat their conditions, but do so illegally and could face severe penalties and jail time for simply trying to ease their suffering.
This is the second attempt by Tennessee lawmakers in two years to introduce and pass medical marijuana legislation. In 2012 a measure was introduced by a former state representative and former state senator, but it was killed in committee and the two lost their positions the following year.
But there's been a lot more attention on medical cannabis over the last two years, with a large national media focus lately on children suffering from rare, seizure-causing conditions finding relief in high-CBD cannabis tinctures and extracts. That interest hasn't passed Tennessee by, either.
"I believe that everybody is more interested this year than they may have in the past because there are other states looking at it," Jones said.
In fact, HB 1385 has been named the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act in part after Piper Koozer, a Tennessee kid who suffers from siezures caused by Aicardi Syndrome. Her family has relocated to Colorado in hopes of treating her with oil that is legal in that state, but says they want to return home to Tennessee as soon as possible. The bill is also named for Jeanne Kuhn, a Tennessee cancer patient who passed away after finding relief with cannabis in her final months despite being considered a criminal in the eyes of the law.
Jones also has a personal reason behind her sponsoring the legislation: her brother died from complications of Crohn's disease a few years ago and she knows he would have benefited from cannabis.
The bill would legalize the possession of cannabis in limited amounts by patients suffering from conditions like cancer, glaucoma, Crohn's diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, AIDS, hepatitis C, Lou Gherig's disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. The bill would also allow doctors to recommend cannabis for "any other medical condition or its treatment as certified or prescribed by practitioners and approved by the (state) health department."
If you live in Tennessee, write your state senators and representatives and let them know that passing this law should be a top priority.