TN: Legislation Would Create Legal Defense For Medical Marijuana Users Possessing Limited Quantities

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A pair of Nashville Democrats are sponsoring a bill that would create a legal defense for people caught with limited amounts of marijuana, provided it is for medical purposes.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Yarbro and Rep. Harold Love, would allow those suffering from a host of medical conditions, including cancer and glaucoma, to possess no more than one ounce of marijuana.

Yarbro said the measure is necessary because the legislature has failed to craft rules for medical marijuana on a statewide basis.

“At the very least, people who are using marijuana to treat chronic illness and make their lives possible shouldn’t live under the constant threat of being arrested,” he said recently.

The legislation would essentially provide a proper legal defense for someone with a genuine medical diagnosis for which cannabis has been prescribed.

Although there’s a separate and larger effort to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee, Yarbro said his bill is an initial step that could pave the way for the bigger measure. He also said his legislation would serve as a fallback in the event the larger bill failed.

Last week, Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, introduced a comprehensive measure that would only allow oil-based manufactured products, such as pills or lotions, and would not permit the sale of raw cannabis.

Beyond cancer and glaucoma, Yarbro and Love’s bill allows those with the following medical conditions to have up to one ounce of marijuana:

•HIV and AIDs

•hepatitis C

•amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS

•Tourette’s syndrome

•Crohn’s disease

•ulcerative colitis

•post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD

•severe arthritis


•Alzheimer’s disease


•peripheral neuropathy

•some intractable pains

•severe nausea


•severe muscle spasms.

Last week, Yarbro said he thought Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, was considering sponsoring the measure. Yarbro and Ramsey served on a special committee regarding medical marijuana that formed earlier this year.

In a midweek interview, Ramsey said he wasn’t sure that he’d be sponsoring the bill, adding that he did support the larger medical marijuana measure.

“I’ll be in discussion with (Yarbro),” Ramsey said, referring to the Nashville Democrats’ bill.

Love signed onto the bill on Thursday.