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Long-Shot Marijuana Proposal Comes Up Short In Tennessee House

Dank Depot Marijuana via Flickr

A proposal to introduce medical marijuana in Tennessee has been voted down in the legislature, failing by a single vote in a House committee. While many Republicans have come around on cannabis, a majority say they’re still concerned about conflicting with federal law.

Even as all but a handful of states have legalized medical marijuana, it’s still considered a Schedule 1 street drug, along with heroin and meth. And so long as the Drug Enforcement Agency sees cannabis as illegal, Gov. Bill Lee will oppose it, says his legislative liaison Callon Schmid. Asked if he would have vetoed the measure, she didn’t say.

“He has been consistent in his position that until the federal government reschedules this drug, he is opposed to doing anything at the state level,” she told the House Civil Justice committee Tuesday afternoon, near the start of a two-hour debate.

The sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Bryan Terry, a Murfreesboro anesthesiologist and the chair of the House Health Committee, pointed out that the state has already thumbed its nose at federal authorities in other ways, by refusing to enforce potential restrictions on firearms.

His bill, HB 880/SB 667, was fairly limited — only decriminalizing possession of non-smokable forms of marijuana when used for 11 conditions. The measure had advanced farther in the Senate, but the house’s vote kills the measure for the year.

Still alive is a marijuana bill that would not legalize anything but would establish some regulations for when federal authorities eventually decriminalize cannabis.

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