In Its First Hearing, Study Panel On Medical Marijuana Focuses On Potential Risks To Tennesseans | Nashville Public Radio

In Its First Hearing, Study Panel On Medical Marijuana Focuses On Potential Risks To Tennesseans

Sep 21, 2017

Controlling access to medical marijuana.

That was one big topic of discussion during a hearing Thursday on a proposal to lift the state's ban on marijuana for people with serious illnesses. And while no decision can be made on that plan until next spring, state lawmakers did spend five hours collecting testimony from medical experts and law enforcement.

Many warned of a slippery slope.

The hearing was the first official meeting of the state legislature's Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis, a panel set up to study medical marijuana after a proposal to legalize it again faltered during last spring's legislative session.

At the meeting, lawmakers were repeatedly told medicinal use of marijuana would lead to abuse. Experts spoke of supplies contaminated with other drugs, the difficulty of keeping legally purchased marijuana from being resold and stories of underage children dying after ingesting marijuana.

The testimony drew pushback from one of medical cannabis's big supporters.

"You need to be fair," said state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby. "If we're going to hold marijuana use for medical purpose to a standard, then compare it to what's going on right now that's legal and that's encouraged by a lot of doctors."

Faison argued that marijuana is less dangerous than many opioids and psychotropic drugs.

Lawmakers plan more hearings in Knoxville and Memphis. They could set the stage for another debate over medical marijuana next spring.