The Tri-Star State: Medical Marijuana Takes Center Stage In Tennessee General Assembly

Feb 11, 2019
Originally published on March 1, 2019 5:59 pm

Marijuana is, once again, taking center stage in the Tennessee legislature.

Republicans have filed bills this year that would allow for medical marijuana. And Democrats have introduced measures that could decriminalize it all together.

But, what are the chances of these bills passing? Some conservative lawmakers are changing their minds about marijuana.

The following are excerpts from recent interviews:

Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, on her medical marijuana bill and what made her change her mind about the plant:

“This has been a road-tested model. And what we did in our bill was to look at the things that worked in the 33 states [that have legalized some form of cannabis, a figure that includes Tennessee's law that allows CBD oils], and eliminate the things that didn't. We wanted to make certain that we aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We were trying to take advantage of being a little late coming to the table but take advantage of that and studying those people who have already been there for some up to 20 years.”

Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, on his experience dealing with a grandkid who uses CBD oils:

“I look at this and I’m going, ‘CBD oils works. It makes her more comfortable.’ And that to me, guys, is what we are doing here today. It’s trying to make our people more comfortable.”

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, on her bill that would allow medical marijuana cardholders from out of state to carry marijuana in Tennessee:

“We let you come over here with your medicines if you are a heart patient. If you are diabetic. We let you come to our state and bring those drugs. Why not this one? There’s many efforts and we are talking about it but I think that we are kidding ourselves if we keep criminalizing people and if we take this plant away from people who could use it medically.”

Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.

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