Lawmaker wants to legalize recreational cannabis in Tennessee

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Posted at 11:00 AM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 12:00:22-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville state lawmaker wants to legalize recreational cannabis.

Rep. Bob Freeman's bill will legalize the growth, sale and possession of marijuana in Tennessee.

The medical cannabis debate has gone on for years at the state capitol. Each time, it fails in committees. However, Freeman said he thinks with neighboring states legalizing recreational cannabis means the legislature should discuss it as well.

"The thinking is, we've been round and round on this issue for the last three years that I've been in the legislature," said Freeman. "We've talked about medical, we've talked about doing a commission to study it. The end goal is always going to be full legalization like we see in other states."

Freeman would like for the bill to be heard in the agriculture committee since he believes farmers would support the bill. He also cited a Gallop poll that shows 68% support for full cannabis legislation nationwide.

However, the DEA classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance with a high likelihood for abuse — a fact law enforcement and some lawmakers use as an argument Tennessee shouldn't legalize it.

Recreational cannabis is legal in more than a dozen states while others have also decriminalized its possession.

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In Colorado, the state has earned more than $2 billion in tax revenue since it started collecting taxes on it in 2014. Freeman believes Tennessee would also benefit from its regulation.

"I believe that, financially, it makes good sense for our state," he said. "All of the states around us are either contemplating, hearing bills this year and or have passed bills already. We don't need to be the last ones standing."