A couple of Democratic legislators in Tennessee are trying to tackle the state’s cannabis policy reform from within. They want law enforcement officers in the Volunteer State to be more understanding and friendly to traveling medical marijuana patients by allowing them to bring their medication with them when they visit.
Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) sponsored the legislation, HB0235, in the House, and Senator Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) introduced its companion SB0256 to the Senate.
“We don’t tell folks from other states ‘Please come visit us, but leave your Lipitor, Zocor, Ambien, or other Rx drugs at home,’” tweeted Kyle. “It should be the same for the law abiding citizens, in the 33 other states, who have legal prescriptions for marijuana.”
If approved, a patient with a valid medical marijuana ID card from a legal state would be permitted to bring up to one half of an ounce of dried marijuana flower with them when they visit Tennessee. One patient would also be allowed to give medical cannabis to another registered, card-holding patient without being prosecuted.
“We’re talking about 86 percent of Americans believe that doctors should be able to prescribe it as medicine,” said Johnson. “We’re a big tourism state, and a lot of people come to Tennessee. We want them to be able to bring their medicine with them and not get in trouble for it.”
Johnson was inspired to introduce the legislation when her compassion was kicked into high gear after talking with a friend in Colorado who uses cannabis to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Johnson’s father suffered from severe face neuropathy caused by multiple sclerosis, also known as trigeminal neuralgia, which generated intense and unbearable pain, and forced him to be bedridden.
Cannabis is an effective treatment for neuropathic pain, according to research. Like it does for her friend in Colorado, Johnson thinks cannabis would have increased her father’s quality of life by easing the severity of his symptoms. She wants the suffering constituents in her state to have the right that her father did not — to use marijuana medicinally.
“Certainly, we’re going to enforce the laws as they are. But I think that, we need to revisit it, what we’re doing right now is not working,” she said. “Locking People up is expensive, and it’s not working.”
Johnson encourages her fellow legislators to seek to understand their constituents. “Don’t be afraid of legislation because it seems like a controversial issue because it may not be that way to your voters,” she said. “Talk to them, and see how they think.”
David Cicero of Nashville Tenn. has been arrested for operating a “makeshift marijuana shop” out of his home.
Thanks to a tip from a concerned citizen, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department charged Cicero with possession of marijuana for resale and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. His bond has been set at $15,000. It appears Cicero was running a business that sold multiple types of cannabis products, including concentrates, edibles, and plant material. About $30,000 and packaging materials were also confiscated by police.
Many states have moved to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis that are clearly intended for personal use, but Tennessee is definitely not one of those states. The penalties for possessing over half an ounce of cannabis in Tennessee can earn a person a felony charge, and/or a $5000 fine. The type of felony is a Class E, which is considered the least serious felony classification and has a maximum of three years in prison.
With no opposition in the state legislature, the state of Tennessee passed a bill legalizing cannabis oil. Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law in early May 2015.
The bill restricts the circumstances in which the oil can legally be used to treat epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Cannabis oil with a concentration of less than .9 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can now be administered under the supervision of physicians affiliated with medical schools. This means only high cannabidiol (CBD) strains have been legalized. Patients and their families, who have been closely following the legal developments surrounding this issue, will now legally have access to a drug that is emerging as an effective treatment in cases for which few other options exist.
In order to legally possess the cannabidiol (CBD) oil, patients or their family members must be able to prove that the patient has a recommendation from a licensed physician, and the oil must be carried only in bottle labeled by the manufacturer, indicating that the oil contains less than .9 percent THC. Anyone found in possession of the oil who does not meet these criteria can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
In order to qualify to produce or dispense the cannabis oil, applicants must pay a $250 fee, demonstrate that they will keep accurate records, and show that they will be cultivating cannabis in an enclosed, locked, alarmed facility that is at least 500 feet from any preexisting school.
Licensed facilities will then be required to pay a $1,000 participation fee and must re-apply for licenses every two years. They may not employ anyone who has been convicted of a felony drug offense. In order to ensure that qualified patients have access to the medication, the Department of Health will establish its own dispensary in the event there are no other applicants for the program.
The law also calls for the creation of a 13-member advisory committee made up of appointed medical professionals, patient advocates, patients, law enforcement officials, and the commissioners of the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture, along with the director of the Board of Pharmacy.
Back in November, Fox News 13 of Memphis, TN reported on a 3-year-old child that had exhausted her options in search of a treatment for her debilitating seizures. That is, except for one medicine that her family couldn’t get access to due to state and federal laws that block access to the medicine.
By age 3 Chloe had suffered from more than 75,000 seizures, affecting the development of muscles, coordination, and cognition. Suffering from around 100 seizures per day, doctors tried everything in the book to heal young Chloe, including multiple surgeries at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and 20 different types of medication. In November her family reported that she was taking 5 medications 3 times a day including medications like Methadone. One of the medications forced Chloe’s parents to sign a waiver due to a severe risk of blindness as a side effect.
Back in January Chloe’s grandmother, Gail Grauer, went in front of state legislators to ask for access to the non-psychoactive form of cannabis oil. Legislators soon passed a bill allowing clinical research from Vanderbilt University in conjunction with Tennessee Tech to grow and distribute the medicine to sick children in need. However, Federal regulations blocked this course of action putting Chloe and her family in a life-threatening bind.
In November, Chloe’s mother, Elizabeth Peden said, “You want to do anything, you would do anything, you would literally do anything to save the life of your child.” Her father Shea added, “One day we will be able to try it and we will be able to get those smiles and those little laughs that a lot of people to take for granted.” Tragically, that day never came for Chloe.
On December 10, Fox News Memphis reported that Chloe Grauer died waiting for the treatment she so desperately needed. Sadly, many parents around the country could be facing this life-threatening scenario with their hands tied by the Federal government. In the United States alone, around 3 million individuals suffer from epilepsy.
At the Federal level traction is picking up, but children who are dying for a cure can’t wait for the slow and politicized legislative process to creep along. In July, Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry introduced a bill that would allow legalize the non-psychoactive CBD oil at the national level. The bill, H.R.5226 – Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014 has just begun to gain traction in Congress and will likely be subject to a vote in early 2015. So far there are a total of 38 cosponsors on the bill.
If you would like to take action you can find your district’s Representative here. Write your Congressional leaders and urge them to jump on board with the bill before another child’s life is shamelessly lost due to an inhumane and undignified Federal law.
via: Fox News 13