TN: Marijuana Legalization Discussion Takes Center Stage At ‘Clear The Air’ Conference

Photo Credit: WTVC

The debate over marijuana was a main talking point at the Tobacco Free Chattanooga Clear the Air Conference.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Michael Warren who is the deputy commissioner for population health for the state’s health department.

He addressed issues surrounding medical and recreational use and concerns lawmakers have in Tennessee.

The latest legislation in 2018 was killed in the Tennessee legislature.

It was a four-page decriminalization bill that focused on medical marijuana use.

“The science really doesn’t support using marijuana for all of the medical conditions that have been proposed in the state for the last couple of years,” Warren said.

In Tennessee, marijuana use of any kind is illegal. There is one exception. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, can be used by patients who have intractable seizures. There are still concerns because many believe marijuana is harmful.

“Whether it’s impacting the ability to drive a car, in motor vehicle crashes because of impaired coordination or ingestions by individuals including children,” Warren said.

Dr. Warren has nearly eight years of experience as the state’s deputy commissioner of population health. Big on evidence, Warren acknowledges medical marijuana can help with chronic pain and induces nausea during chemotherapy.

“We really support that FDA process going through making sure that medications are safe and effective,” Warren said.

The FDA approved two medications: Marinol and Cesamet. According to Warren, some medical experts are concerned about addiction. Nine percent of marijuana users become addicted. Also, as of 2014, THC concentration is between 11 and 12 percent.

According to Warren, any decision needs to be in the overall population’s best interest.

“My hope is that we’ll continue to have that dialogue and let science and not passion influence those decisions,” he said.

Warren says he firmly believes legislation will continue to be presented. The last bill that was proposed made it further in the legislature that any other previous proposal.