Of all the proposals to legalize forms of marijuana and their medical uses in Tennessee, just one appears on track for passage this year. It’s only a small step closer to regulating cannabis.
There are several marijuana bills swirling in the legislature again. They include one that broadly decriminalizes for medical use, and one that is hyper specific — only for veterans with quadriplegia. But they haven’t gained widespread traction.
“Couple reasons for that,” Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, said in a committee hearing earlier this month. “One, I think, is how massive the bill is and trying to understand that. And second is, I don’t think Tennessee is ready for marijuana — certainly not recreational.”
Haile, who is a pharmacist, says he and other Republicans are beginning to come around to some medical marijuana applications — especially for cancer patients looking to control pain. And decriminalization at the federal level is beginning to seem inevitable.
So, Haile’s proposal (SB0118) would establish a commission to figure out how to tax and regulate marijuana — but only when it’s no longer a federally controlled substance. It has very little opposition among Republicans, though it has not reached final passage yet.
Among marijuana advocates, there is still a sliver of hope for Sen. Becky Massey’s proposal, which could reach the floor of the Senate on Monday night. The medical marijuana legislation has been amended to be more of a pilot program for a limited number of ailments.
However, Senate Speaker Randy McNally has not changed his position and remains opposed to legalizing cannabis before any federal action. Gov. Bill Lee has also broadly opposed medical marijuana, though he has not specifically come out against any legislation this year.