A measure that would legalize the possession medical marijuana passed through the criminal justice committee, making it farther than any previous legalization attempt.
It passed Wednesday, in a vote of 9-2. Lawmakers on the committee approved the bill that allows people with one of several mentioned medical conditions to obtain the drug.
The committee heard testimony from both sides, including a mother who suffered from seizures when she didn't illegally use cannabis in state, or various law enforcement agencies who pleaded with lawmakers that this would make their job harder and put Tennesseans in danger.
"There was a time period from 2006 to 2010 where I didn't have any seizures at all," said Andrea Houser, who testified Wednesday. "How do you ask? Because of cannabis. I felt normal again. It gave me my life back. But I also didn't want to break the law. So, I stopped using it. But when I stopped, my seizures came back with a vengeance. So, that tells me that cannabis does work."
However, representatives with the department of health said they believe the research isn't adequate to allow people to medicate themselves.
"We're very frustrated with the lack of progress," said the rep. "However, we don't believe the answer is to just to not give up on the system, which has served our country very well. But to take some of the restrictions off and to allow the medical scientists to actually get the information that we need."
Two amendments were added to the bill: one that takes away the requirement that someone would need a medical card to possess medical marijuana. The second takes chronic pain and nausea out of one of the accepted conditions in the bill.
The bill will be heard in the senate judiciary committee where more changes could be made.