On Sept. 21, 2017, the Tennessee medical cannabis task force, created by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and State House Speaker Beth Harwell, met for the first time to discuss legalization.
The Tennessee medical cannabis task force, officially known as the Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Cannabis, was created to examine all possible avenues the legislature has to legalize the substance in the next session. While it has been met with uncertainty from police officers and some health officials, advocates maintain that the benefits of medical cannabis offset any negatives.
During its first meeting, which ran nearly five hours, the task force, comprised of state senators and representatives, listened to testimony from physicians, experts, police officers and Tennessee Department of Health staff.
“What we are doing is giving this a full public airing and we are getting both sides of the issue presented,” said Sen. Steve Dickerson, as reported by Local Memphis.
According to News Channel 5, David Reagan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, admitted that medical cannabis might be beneficial, but that the Tennessee medical cannabis task force should hold off on recommending legalization as there has not been a sufficient amount of research on the topic.
“We support doing additional research. The FDA, more the DEA from our perspective, has traditionally been, for 100 years, has been an organization that exemplifies getting us safe and effective medicines,” Reagan said.
Though he supports further research on the drug, he mentioned his doubts of medical cannabis being studied at the level needed as long as it is still categorized as a Schedule I drug.
While Reagan argued that more needed to be done, others thought they were hearing a broken record.
“I feel like it’s the same arguments that we’ve heard historically. I feel like the deeper we get into this over the next couple of months, the arguments have no foundation,” said Rep. Jeremy Faison, chair of the task force. “When it comes just to the strict use of the medical grade cannabis, it’s a great benefit all the way around for the state.”
The Tennessee medical cannabis task force is slated to meet again in October, and according to Faison, the committee plans to hear from those who have had positive medical experiences with the drug.
“Whether you are ready or not, Marijuana is coming to America,” Faison said.
You can watch the entirety of the Tennessee medical cannabis task force meeting here.