Friday, December 9, 2016

Medical Marijuana Coming to Tennessee?

According to a variety of signals, remedial state legislation is on its way.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 12:13 PM

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In the wake of a ruling by Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery that local jurisdictions cannot pass marijuana legislation that contradicts state policy, various local governments have gone their separate ways on the subject.

Memphis city government has suspended its application of the relaxed provisions of a new ordinance, Nashville is going ahead with its own, similar ordinance, and the Shelby County Commission has nixed the idea of doing anything at all.

But meanwhile some basic change might be stirring at the state level, after all.

An announcement from the state House Republican caucus on Friday suggested that state Representatives Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and Steve Dickerson (R-Goodlettsville) will announce forthcoming legislation next Wednesday on the subject of allowing the dispensation of medical marijuana in some form.

There have other hints of state action on the subject, as well.

One came during the Shelby County Commission’s debate last week on an ordinance to allow law enforcement in unincorporated areas to consider a $50 ticket as one alternative to prosecution for possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less.

In speaking against the measure, co-sponsored by Commissioners Reginald Milton and Van Turner, Commissioner Terry Roland warned that passage of a local ordinance might cause backlash against a pending measure in the legislature to legalize medical marijuana. Roland mentioned state Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), a physician, as a likely sponsor of such a bill in the coming session of the General Assembly..

And in the course of an interview on Thursday with WATN-TV anchor Brandon Artiles, scheduled for broadcast on Sunday, state Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris (D-Memphis) foresaw “some open minds in the legislature on both sides of the aisle” on the matter of decriminlizartion and specified one such as “a new center of power,” Sen. Randy McNally, about to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

McNally, he said, had been “one of the first” to proclaim that possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be a felony.

9th District Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) was an early proponent of legalizing medical marijuana during his service in the state Senate and continues to support liberalization of marijuana laws as well as the commutation of strict sentences meted out in the past for persons convicted of simple possession.

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