NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A young man from Chattanooga pleaded the case for medical marijuana on Tennessee's Capitol Hill Monday.
Twenty-five-year-old John Donovan is disabled from rheumatoid arthritis and joined other advocates in the hallways of Legislative Plaza looking for lawmakers who would listen.
“I would love to go to a pharmacy and be able get [marijuana] instead of going to a drug dealer,” he told News 2.
“You've got a lot of work to do on this,” said House Speaker Kent Williams as he was buttonholed outside his office by Donovan and other advocates.
“I don't know anything about marijuana, never tried it, I am focused on the budget,” said the speaker.
Advocates are telling lawmakers that 14 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana another 14 are considering legislation similar to Tennessee's.
The bill advocated is called the Safe Access to Cannabis Act.
In broad strokes, it details how pharmacies would sell marijuana, what medical circumstances make would it legal, and how the state would license marijuana producers and distributors.
Donovan said it would help him because of the relief he gets from cannabis as opposed to more traditional treatments for rheumatoid arthritis that can come with side effects.
“The traditional drugs were causing more pain than I was initially in, I was getting to the point where I could not eat during the day,” Donovan said.
So far state lawmakers haven't been receptive to the bill, which failed in a House committee. Advocates hope the issue can be considered as a legislative summer study issue.
“Discuss this intelligently, not look at this with the same ignorance as we have been viewing it since the 1930s,” Donovan encouraged.
The advocates final effort this year could come Tuesday when the effort to take the issue to summer study is brought up in the House Health and Human Services Committee.
- Feb. 18, 2010: Bill would legalize marijuana for medical purposes