On Monday, leaders of the Tennessee state House toured MTSU's lab that would be set up to study medical marijuana — if it were legalized. Lawmakers could consider cannabis for medicinal use again this year.
House Speaker Beth Harwell led the delegation to MTSU, which currently is only studying hemp, which was legalized in Tennessee a few years ago and also has some medicinal value. In her campaign for governor, Harwell has said she's open to medical marijuana too, so long as it doesn't lead to recreational use.
Rep. Jeremy Faison of East Tennessee asked his fellow legislators to no longer think of the plant as "taboo" but rather a potential "life-saver." He's argued that it could be an alternative to addictive painkillers.
He and state Senator Steve Dickerson of Nashville — who is an anesthesiologist — have gotten a chilly reception to medical marijuana in recent years. This year, they've restricted their proposal to cannabis oil rather than allowing doctors to prescribe smoking or edibles. However, they've yet to convince Governor Bill Haslam, even though his last year in office is focused on reducing opioid use in the state.