Could Tennessee be next to legalize marijuana?

Could Tennessee be next to legalize marijuana? (Image 1)

Other states have done it but could the Volunteer State be next to legalize medical marijuana?

The short answer is no for the immediate future, but each year medical marijuana advocates offer emotional testimony in hopes the idea might get a little closer to acceptance on Tennessee's Capitol Hill.

“It's like one step forward and two steps back,” said Kim West-Hipps, who was among a handful of medical marijuana advocates who spoke before the House Health Committee Wednesday. “I am proud to say I use marijuana.”

Before her testimony, the trained nurse told News 2 “it's more a civil rights issue than anything else.”

West-Hipps said she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and a variety of other conditions.

The Lebanon woman added that cannabis eases her pain without the side effects of harder drugs.

“They make you so sick and they destroy your liver, so any long-term care on an anti-inflammatory, a narcotic, any of that, we are not supposed to be on those medications long term,” she told News 2.

House Bill 1385, also known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced by Nashville democrat Rep. Sherry Jones in mid-January.

Advocates like West-Hipps know the bill is a long shot at best.

There are a handful of Democrats who support the measure, but most of the conservative-Republican dominated legislature is hesitant to get firmly behind the issue.

Hamilton County representative Richard Floyd is an unwavering opponent who worries about enforcement.

“There is no way they are going to be able to control the sale of pot and keep it out of these kids' hands,” the lawmaker told News 2, adding, “It's easy enough to get it now.”

Twenty one states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana use, with Colorado and Washington State approving recreational use.

The Tennessee measure on medical marijuana is scheduled to go before a House Health Subcommittee next week.

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