Two Tennessee bills would legalize medical marijuana in the state, effectively stopping the long-standing federal prohibition on the same.
State Sen. James Kyle introduced Senate Bill 660 (SB660) and State Rep. Sherry Jones introduced House Bill 561 (HB561).
Under these two bills, qualified patients would be able to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, something which is illegal under federal drug laws. Patients would have to qualify for enrollment in the Safe Access program by having their physician approve the use of medical marijuana. In the patient is enrolled, the program would issue them an ID card.
Additional provisions make it illegal for a person to be denied entry to a school, a job position, visitation or child custody rights, or a lease with a landlord due to their use of medical marijuana.
Other provisions in the bills would have the state department of health, department of agriculture, and board of pharmacy would report biannually to the Tennessee General Assembly, among other things, the number of patients enrolled in the Safe Access program; their debilitating medical conditions, and the number of doctors certifying patients for the program.
Anyone who discloses confidential patient information contained in the Safe Access program would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
Although these bills draw a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, they still represent enormous steps in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of Tennessee. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced with a more decentralized, compassionate approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. Measures such as HB561 and SB660 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HB561 was referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, and SB660 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bills will have to pass through their committee assignments successfully before they can receive full votes in their respective chambers.
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of Tennessee, take steps to support these important bills AT THIS LINK.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB561 and SB660 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.