Bill would legalize marijuana for medical purposes

Bill would legalize marijuana for medical purposes (Image 1)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A bill introduced this session on Tennessee's Capitol Hill would make marijuana as easy to get as a prescription, under certain circumstances.

Under the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act, marijuana would be available at pharmacies statewide to treat patients with certain medical conditions.

Chad Fowler is a former Ft. Campbell soldier now lobbying lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana, or cannabis.

Fowler has a herniated disc and cognitive joint disease in his hips, his knees and his lower back.

He told News 2 taking prescription painkillers like Percocet would keep him “knocked out for hours, days on end.”

“I would be strung out on what they were giving,” he recalled, referencing drugs often prescribed in the military.  “It would make me feel a lot better to know that I can go to the Walgreens, that is right around the corner from my house, to get my prescription than have to sit in a parking lot and wait for someone to bring it to me.”

Stories like Fowler's are why the Safe Access to Cannabis Act is being considered.

The bill details how pharmacies would sell marijuana, what medical circumstances make would make it legal and state licensing of marijuana producers and distributors.

“There is no excuse for someone who is dying from cancer or MS to have to pay $400 an ounce for cannabis,” said Bernie Ellis, who has long fought to legalize medical marijuana, “we'll make it available to them at $60 an ounce.”

Tennessee lawmakers may not be swayed.

“The problem with medical marijuana lies in the potential for abuse,” said Rep. Hank Fincher, who opposes the bill.  “We have seen that in California's experience.”

While supporters say otherwise, they admit it will be a long road to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

The bill has yet to face a committee vote.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 14 states including Oregon, Alaska, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada and New Jersey. 

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