Nashville’s Road to Legalization

NASHVILLE, Tennessee

Photo provided with permission

In recent news, medical cannabis is spreading its wings and heading down to Nashville, Tennessee this month. Recently, House Bill 1749 was approved by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee after a close debate leaving officials with a tie. But Beth Harwell voiced her opinion and voted in favor of the new regulations on cannabis and ended the vote at 4 to 3. Thanks to Harwell’s knowledge of cannabis, and being a supporter of it for some time, medical marijuana is now available to patients who are in need of it. Although these are only the first steps that this state has taken they are still marking the work towards full legalization that many cannabis supporters are looking forward to in the future.

What this new proposal would entail for legalization isn’t as great as it seems, but still a fresh start for a town that has been against cannabis for years. The committee decided that people living in Tennessee would be allowed to consume only oil-based cannabis product legally. Anything from tinctures, concentrates, to pills and ointments would be available for medical purchase only. Any other form of cannabis such as flower will still be marked as illegal for those to purchase within the state. The priority of Tennessee seems to be that cannabis is not to be smoked within the state at all, even if used for medical purposes.

Senator Dickerson, who also happens to be a doctor, has been supporting this new proposal for a while now. Being in the medical field he has seen many people who have gone through hell and back when trying to find the right medications for their illnesses. Knowing this he did his research and found that cannabis might be the right path for some people.

“Once I had the chance to do the research myself and look into the data that was out there, I was convinced there were a number of conditions that were not being treated adequately by current medications,” said Sen. Dickerson.

The city has also created a list of medical conditions for the use of oil based cannabis product, some of them being PTSD, cancer, and Parkinson’s. Supporters of cannabis are weary of this new change because of the limitations it has on cannabis. Everything under this new change will be completely regulated, even the amounts of THC that is found within these oil based products to ensure that people are not experiencing too much of a “high” when consuming marijuana. Hopefully, as time goes on and city officials, as well as locals, become more educated on the medical benefits of marijuana all forms of cannabis will be allowed for citizens consumption.

Bernie Ellis, a cannabis supporter, wrote to Nashville Public Radio on his stance on the new proposal for medical marijuana. Although enthusiastic about the new progressive change, he believes that the limitations may hinder those using cannabis oil for medical issues due to the lag effects of using oil versus flower.

"The safest, most effective and best titrated way to use medical cannabis is to inhale the vapors of whole plant cannabis (i.e., dried female flowers) using a vaporizer. The patient obtains relief within ten seconds and it seldom takes more than a few inhalations to obtain the desired relief. Cannabis oils, if ingested, take 30-60 minutes for the patient to feel any effect, which often results in patients using more than they need to, increasing the likelihood that they will experience unpleasant side effects (nausea, disorientation) of overuse."

As officials become more educated hopefully they will see how their limitations may hold back some patients progression to health with this new proposal. This is the first step for cannabis in Tennessee which will be marked as a milestone nonetheless, but hopefully more is to come from this state, as well as others.