Medical Marijuana Supporters Lobby Tennessee Republicans

Medical Marijuana Supporters Lobby Tennessee Republicans

CREATED Jan 28, 2014

by Todd Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It faces long odds, but supporters of medical marijuana in Tennessee believe their chances are better than ever this year of getting some kind of vote on a bill which has been proposed for years.

Supporters of medical marijuana spent Monday lobbying Republican lawmakers. Without Republican support the bill will go nowhere again.

Representative Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, has sponsored the bill for six years now. Her brother suffered from Crohns Disease, and she used him as inspiration for the bill. She said he would have benefited from the relief medical marijuana would have provided.

Jones said the bill won't even start moving through committees for consideration for a while because she and other Democratic sponsors are still digging for support.

Jones held a press conference Monday with other lawmakers who plan to sign on as sponsors.

A large group of medical marijuana supporters, including those with diseases that could be treated with marijuana, spoke during the press conference then met with Republican lawmakers. 

Many are so serious about medical marijuana and its potential benefits for their loved ones, like Toni Corbin, they are willing to leave Tennessee altogether.

Corbin's son Wallace was in a motorcycle crash in 2009. He is now paralyzed and suffers from seizures and extreme pain.

Wallace is on at least 20 different medications under his pain management program through TennCare.

With medical marijuana, Corbin said that list would go down to eight medications and he'd have more relief.

"If I gave him marijuana to relieve (his symptoms) without their permission they'd kick him out because (TennCare) tests him every month," Corbin said. "They have us over a barrel."

Republican Speaker of the House Beth Harwell said this year will likely be an educational year for other Republicans.

"I don't think perhaps this is the year," she said. "But I do think this is the year to start the process of education and citizen's involvement."

Tennessee had a medical marijuana program from 1980 to 1989 as a part of a federal study.