The Volunteer State might soon become weed-friendly, as the Republican Senator Janice Bowling of Tullahoma filed a bill which could legalize medical marijuana.
Tennessee has long been one of the stomping grounds for the Republican party. In every election, Tennessee is an almost-certain vote for the GOP candidate.
Just take a look at the composition of the Tennessee General Assembly—both the House and the Senate are run by the Republicans.
Republicans hold trifecta control of the state government, meaning the House, Senate and Governor position from 2011 up until today.
Only 2 out of 11 Congressional representatives coming from Tennessee are democratic, those being Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. Jim Cooper.
Those two are also the only two Tennessee representatives that voted in support of most federal cannabis bills in the past.
Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act
Sen. Janice Bowling introduced the medical marijuana legalization bill just yesterday, and the media is already calling it The Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act.
The State Assembly had one cannabis legalization bill on the docket last year, however that bill only allowed for oils.
Sen. Bowling’s bill will allow for any form of marijuana for medical purposes.
Under her bill, only about 20 illnesses would fall in the category of approved conditions, most of those being serious illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, MS, but also some less severe such as PTSD, opioid addiction, severe nausea and chronic pain.
This wasn’t the only cannabis bill which was introduced, as Senator Sara Kyle introduced 2 important cannabis bills, including one that would decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Bowling’s legislation currently doesn’t have any House sponsors, but other Republicans could introduce other proposals dealing with medical marijuana, as the bill filing deadline for both chambers is this week.
A potential veto in play
Not all politicians in Tennessee are strictly against marijuana. The former Governor Bill Haslam isn’t what you would call a “classic supporter” of marijuana.
We shouldn’t call him a champion of legalization either because he’s really in the middle.
However, he did do a lot for the people of Tennessee: He signed a bill to reduce third-time cannabis possession offenses from a felony to misdemeanor in 2016.
He also signed one which legalized the use and possession of CBD for the purpose of treating seizures, which paved the way for medical marijuana.
Then, in 2017, Haslam signed a bill which repealed citywide cannabis decriminalization ordinances in Memphis and Nashville, making it more illegal to get caught with marijuana.
Last year he said that he doesn’t believe that his administration will be in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, however in 2019 he was replaced by Bill Lee.
This situation puts Tennessee in a real pickle as the State Assembly is debating cannabis legalization as we speak. If the bill is passed, what will it mean for the new governor?