Democratic guber candidates favor medical marijuana, Republicans split

Two Democrats running for governor support legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee while the five most active Republican candidates are split on the issue, reports The Tennessean.

Earlier, state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who co-chairs a legislative committee charged with studying legalization of cannabis-based drugs for medical purposes, told WBIR TV that the idea will be one of the top five issues in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign – along with jobs, infrastructure, abortion and gun rights.

“It’s an election year and this is exciting,” Faison said. “The reason it’s come all the way to the Republican side is because the people of Tennessee are ready for this.”

The Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis was appointed by Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell, one of the GOP candidates for governor.

Harwell had earlier declared her support for appropriately-regulated medical marijuana, saying her sister benefited from the drug while recovering from serious injuries in Colorado, where it is legal. Faison and Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, the other committee co-chair, are both advocates of medical marijuana legalization.

Among the other Republican gubernatorial candidates commenting on the matter, former Sen. Mae Beavers appeared the most adamantly opposed to the idea.

“I hope the Legislature won’t be ‘duped’ into supporting ‘dope’ based on a smokescreen of ‘medical’ concern. As Governor I certainly won’t be fooled by a Trojan Horse campaign, no matter how sincere some of those who are seeking medical treatment may be,” Beavers told Tennessee Star. “Proponents of medical marijuana consistently ignore or deny the fact that the same medical doctors who recklessly dispense prescriptions for the opioids that are fueling an opioids crisis in Tennessee are the same ones we would expect to properly regulate the dispensing of medical marijuana. I believe we should deal with one drug distribution crisis before we proceed to create another.”

From The Tennessean report:

Williamson County businessman Bill Lee said he will listen to law enforcement and the medical community while forming his position… (and) called for further evaluation of the state’s current law that allows limited use of non-smokable cannabidoil.

…U.S. Diane Black said no scientific research exists that shows the medical benefits of smoking marijuana.

Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd said any potential use of medical marijuana should go through testing and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

…Both Beavers and Black said marijuana is a “gateway drug” — the idea that using cannabis can lead people to other harder drugs.

Democrats Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh were somewhat in line with Harwell.

“If the medical profession says there are identifiable, concrete reasons why medical marijuana could help with someone’s care, I think use should be permitted,” Dean said.

“I certainly would not want state government to stand in the way of someone receiving relief from their suffering if there is medical evidence and medical professionals supporting the treatment.” 

Fitzhugh said he would support a policy that defers to physicians on the practice of medicine.

“Any such policy would have to include seed-to-sale controls and barcode tracking. The crops must be cultivated in Tennessee, taxed properly, and the law must prohibit the purchase or sale of these products across state lines,” he said.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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