The bill, introduced and sponsored by Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, and Sen. Steven Dickerson, R-Nashville, would allow marijuana to be grown, manufactured into medical products and sold to Tennesseans of all ages who suffer from a handful of debilitating medical conditions including epilepsy, terminal cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
Current Conditions List
Proposed legislation aims to give patients the ability to use cannabis oil if they have one of the six following “debilitating” conditions:
- Stage II-IV terminal cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Intractable seizures diagnosed from epilepsy
- Huntington’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
- Any terminal health condition in which palliative use is recommended for end-of-life care
Approved delivery methods include:
- Vaporization or atomization
- Ingestible gel caps
- Transdermal patches
Tennessee Bill Focuses on Cannabis Oil Legalization for Chronic Sufferers
The investment group pushing the legislation, called TennCanGrow LLC, was started late last year by Murfreesboro health care attorney Ted LaRoche.
“We see this could be life-changing for many people,” said LaRoche, who hopes to form a cannabis production company if the bill is passed. “It’s a business opportunity for us, which allows us to focus on what is reasonable and doable when it comes to getting legislation passed. But it’s a business that could help people.”
Dickerson, an anesthesiologist, said he felt comfortable carrying the legislation after seeing how the “science has accumulated” on the therapeutic properties of cannabis oil.
“The national dialogue has changed dramatically on this issue over the last several years,” Dickerson said.
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, sponsored a bill that passed last year permitting a pilot program that uses low-THC marijuana cultivated by Tennessee Technological University as a therapy for epileptic children.
That program has stalled so far. But for advocates, it signaled an openness to rethinking marijuana legislation.
A Vanderbilt University poll in 2014 showed that 76 percent of Tennesseans are in favor of legalizing marijuana in some form, with 32 percent in favor of general legalization and 44 percent supporting only medicinal use.
Twenty-three states permit some kind of marijuana usage. Georgia passed a bill last week legalizing cannabis oil in medical treatment.
The wide spectrum of state legislation gives lawmakers a range of test cases to study, explained Erik Williams, a Colorado-based political consultant and medical marijuana activist brought in by TennCanGrow to direct the organization’s government affairs. He is unrelated to Rep. Ryan Williams.