House committee authorizes medical marijuana study

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 9:20pm

Tennessee may be a step closer to legalizing medical marijuana after a surprising vote in a House committee Tuesday.

The Health and Human Resources Committee approved a measure to authorize a study by the state Board of Pharmacy into the efficacy of making marijuana available by prescription.

Last week, the same committee voted down a similar measure 12-9. This time only four members — Reps. Curtis Halford, Debra Maggart, Barrett Rich and Tony Shipley, all Republicans — voted no.

Supporters hope the study will grease the wheels for future consideration of a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Richardson and Sen. Beverly Marrero, both Memphis Democrats. Under the proposal, the state would license farmers to grow cannabis at tightly restricted compounds, then sell prescribed doses through pharmacies.

Bernie Ellis, an advocate for medical pot, described the change on the Health Committee as "an amazing turnaround."

Ellis pointed to the newfound support of Rep. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), who is an MD, as a major factor in the committee's reversal. Hensley met with John Donovan, a Red Bank man who uses marijuana to relieve pain caused by juvenile rheumatoid athritis. Donovan spent "hours," according to Ellis, walking the halls of Legislative Plaza lobbying lawmakers.

"Probably his most meaningful conversation was with Dr. Hensley. His voice is so influential on that committee and last week, he led the opposition," Ellis said. "This was a totally unexpected result, and I didn't put anywhere on my scope."

The study group will include representatives of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state's sheriffs, and is required to report back to the General Assembly in late January 2011.

While Ellis and other supporters were pleased with Tuesday's result in the House, things are not going as smoothly in the Senate. The bill was referred to the Government Operations Committee in January and has not advanced. 

15 Comments on this post:

By: house_of_pain on 4/28/10 at 5:01

In the interest of science, I would like to volunteer as a test subject for this study.
If there's a companion study, involving Doritos, I'll need to get in on that, as well...

By: Kosh III on 4/28/10 at 6:21

Yes Yes. Me too.
I've got (or can get) all the diseases that medical marijuana relieves and would be happy to sacrifice my personal time and energy to help improve science and health.
God bless Darwin! :)

Seriously. I'm glad to see a spark of intelligence in the legislature.

By: nashtnman on 4/28/10 at 9:30

I wanna grow I wanna grow please please

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 9:56

This is incredible news, after years of financing Gov. Bredesen's ill-conceived but favorite program - his "Marijuana Eradication Program", the Volunteer state is finally seeing the light. Alleluia!

A note to the Bible thumpers who are now enraged, please read Genesis 1:11, in your King James Bible..."and God saw that it was good." Would you continue to criminalize the work of the Creator? If so, by whose authority?

Rep. Steve Cohen should jump on this too; he has been a long time advocate for Cannabis reform in Tennessee.

Doctor Hensley should be commended for his bravery and for his extraordinary powers of persuasion. BRAVO!

Rep. Cohen should address the TN Senate, as should Dr. Hensley.

The next Governor must be onboard with reform or the movement is doomed. Will special interests trump the public interest on this timely issue?

By: JohnGalt on 4/28/10 at 11:04

Maybe someone on the House committee is facing chemo and finally realized that an occasional toke can make it more bearable.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 11:11

I tried to send the following Email to Rep, Steve Cohen, but it did not go through.... a screen came saying that I was not in his district, the message could not be sent.

I'm asking that someone in his district relay my message; here it is:

Rep. Cohen, Sir:

Today's Nashville City Paper features a news story that may interest you.

Here's the NCP headline and byline: "House committee authorizes medical marijuana study ", Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 8:20pm, by J.R. Lind .

Here is the URL for the online version of this news item:

Please join our posting community and leave a comment.

I have suggested that you and Dr. Hensley might both address the Tennessee Senate and also provide your input to the committee tasked with evaluating this proposal.


NCP Username: Loner.

Here is the URL for Cohen's "contact me" site:

Thank you.

By: JohnGalt on 4/28/10 at 11:16

Use a Memphis zip 38301.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 11:18

Amen, Brother Galt. If we agree on this issue, then there may be some hope and some change in the winds sweeping across the fruited plains.

The days of Harry Anslinger's Reefer Madness are long gone, a new and fresh breeze is blowin'.

End the Prohibition! Let We the People decide for ourselves....government needs to get out of the counter-productive marijuana eradication and smoker incarceration business.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 11:24

That would be dishonest, John. I do not agree when people claim that the ends justify the means, I gotta play by the same rules that I demand of others, Brother Galt.

Perhaps you, or some kind stranger, can do the dirty work for me....I must maintain plausible deniability.

By: JohnGalt on 4/28/10 at 11:31

By the same token then, Loner (pun intended), I can't send your message either since I am not in the ninth district.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 11:50

I just called Rep. Cohen's office and relayed the message over the phone. (I got the unlimited plan.) The recptionist on the phone seemed quite interested....I invited Steve to come online here.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 11:52

And they say the right has no sense of humor, LOL, JG.

And yes, there is honor on right as well.

By: PromosFriend on 4/28/10 at 2:24

"Loner" in particular seems to have gotten way too enthusiastic about the proposed study - unless he/she is really suffering from one of the medical problems that might be addressed with prescription marijuana. As for the "God made it and said it was good" argument, remember, God also made poison ivy, poison hemlock, and rattlesnakes, but that doesn't mean its smart to rub the ivy on you, eat the hemlock, or play with poisonous snakes. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, those religous nuts that do the poison and snake thing in their services are breaking the settled law of the land, just like current laws against recreational use of marijuana is still illegal. Now, I don't really care one way or 'tother whether recreational use is ever legalized, but if marijuana is legalized for medical uses only I hope that those that abuse the system are properly prosecuted.

By: PromosFriend on 4/28/10 at 2:29

Oops! I gotta do a better job of proofreading - next to last sentence is awkward. Meant to imply that, just like snake handling in religious ceremonies is still illegal, recreational use of marijuana is as well. And, all you stoners - don't get too riled up by my opinions. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if the stuff were decriminalized or even legalized - with the appropriate regulations and taxes ala spirits and smokes.

By: Loner on 4/28/10 at 4:28

Ah, the old "poison ivy" false analogy..that's simply old pulpit droppings, PF. I heard that one ten years ago, it was a false analogy then and it shall remain so. Cannabis is a natural plant, not a drug, is God a criminal for giving mankind this wonderful herb? Methinks not.

Full legalization with taxation would eliminate the medical fakery issue. California has such a proposal on the Nov. ballot.

If TN can produce such fine whiskey, as it does, (Jack Daniels e.g.) then it seems logical that the Volunteer state could produce first class Cannabis. The greenest state in the land of the free should be able to produce excellent herb at affordable prices.