Two state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow Tennesseans with specific health conditions access to medical cannabis oil products, but not recreational use.
The Medical Cannabis Only Act of 2018 was introduced Thursday by State Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville) and State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby).
Sandy Bush is a Knoxville mom of a 5-year-old with epilepsy. She was incredibly thankful for a bill passed a few years ago in Tennessee that allowed her son, Cameron, to take small doses of hemp oil. She approved of this new legislation because it would give her family more options if they needed it.
“If you can reduce any kind of suffering or get any small developmental gain, it’s just huge for them and for you,” Bush said.
The bill would allow patients with specific health conditions, like cancer and PTSD, to access medical cannabis oil.
“You are going to see a quality of life that is exponential compared to the quality of life that a lot of pills bring,” said Rep. Faison.
Faison said a city or county would be allowed to have a dispensary, but it would not be mandatory. Counties could opt out by a majority vote of the county commission. He said nearly 80 percent of registered voters in Tennessee support allowing at least medical cannabis treatments, according to the latest Vanderbilt University polling data.
“This has everything to do with helping some very sick Tennesseans who need an alternative to prescription pills,” he said.
The legislation would create an independent Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission – with appointees from the governor, lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House – composed of doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement officials, educators and patient advocates.
The commission would issue registration cards to qualifying patients. These cards would contain new technology that has real time tracking with chips and card readers similar to the controlled substance monitoring database used by the Department of Health.