Tennessee could become the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana if one bill continues to advance in the state legislature.
Many people with chronic issues hope state lawmakers would one day allow medical marijuana for relieving serious issues like glaucoma and cancer.
Now, the bill that would license and regulate farmers to grow cannabis and have it distributed to sick patients through dispensaries has passed a key House subcommittee.
"What we've tried to do is avoid the mistakes of Colorado and California. I call them the cowboy states with this, and ours would be the most tightly-regulated medical cannabis bill in the nation," said State Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis.
But, many lawmakers still have doubts.
"It is abused, and I don't want to open the door so that it can be abused more and put more marijuana out in the general public," said State Rep. Joey Hensley, R- Hohenwald.
Hensley is the only physician in the House and believes it could also be difficult for doctors to know how to prescribe it.
"It would be a difficult thing to know how to prescribe it or what the dosage should be or how long. So, many problems with it," he said.
Advocates think the issue will eventually become law in Tennessee, but politics could get in the way in an election year.
"Let me tell you the real politics of this. There are a lot of the members, both Republican and Democrats, who feel like this bill will hurt them politically," Richardson said. "I know that because they tell me that every day."
The medical marijuana bill still has a long way to go. It will be in a House committee next week, and many believe it will have difficulty making it out of there.
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