NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — With lawmakers in several states expected to legalize cannabis, and 37 states that already have, a couple of lawmakers in Tennessee have moved to do the same.
State Rep. Jason Powell, a Democrat, introduced a bill allowing for medical marijuana use after saying he’s heard support on it from other Tennesseans, reports NewsNation affiliate WKRN.
“The reality is what we need to do is focus on helping Tennesseans who have severe chronic and terrible health conditions — their quality of life would be greatly enhanced with medical cannabis,” Powell said.
Powell’s fellow Democratic Rep. Bob Freeman is taking things a step further and proposing a bill to completely legalize cannabis in the state, saying the 25-year war on drugs has sent many people to prison, and ruined lives.
“It’s time we move past this and legalized it – 37 states have already done this,” Freeman said.
Tennessee, Freeman said, is missing out on growing, cultivating, selling and taxing weed, meaning the state is also missing out on a billion-dollar industry.
“Obviously, it’s illegal today and there’s no tax revenue gained,” Freeman said.
However, some resistance remains to making marijuana legal in Tennessee.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, who presides over the Senate, says his support for the pending bills is contingent upon the removal of marijuana from the Schedule 1 controlled substances list.
“Schedule 1 has no legitimate medical use and it (has) a high ability to cause addiction or dependency,” McNally said.
Republican House member Bruce Griffey and Sen. Sara Kyle, a Democrat, introduced bipartisan legislation to poll Tennesseans about their feelings toward marijuana on the upcoming 2022 ballot.
Previous attempts to decriminalize marijuana were killed during last year’s session.