Medical marijuana bill passes through Tennessee Senate committee, conditions attached

Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 11, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Sen. Steve Dickerson's medical marijuana bill passed through the Tennessee Senate committee on Wednesday afternoon with a vote of 6 to 3.

However, there was a last-minute amendment added by Republican Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) that would only allow the bill to happen if marijuana is rescheduled as a Schedule 2 substance federally. The committee also voted to pass the amendment 6 to 3.

Senator Dickson, a Republican Nashville lawmaker, is in his fifth year of bringing forth legislation that would legalize certain forms of cannabis for medical use.

Last week a house subcommittee passed the legislation through with a positive recommendation, but before then, movement has stalled on any such bill.

Despite having widespread support for legalization, medical marijuana measures have struggled in the Tennessee legislature. A bill hasn’t passed through a committee since 2018, when Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) lead a summer study and sponsored a bill to legalize the plant for medical purposes.

It narrowly passed through a committee due to then House Speaker Beth Harwell joining on a committee to be the deciding vote. Sen. Dickerson was also a sponsor of the senate version of the bill that year.

This marks the first time Dickerson's legislation made it through a senate hurdle. It will now move to the government operations committee.

Opponents of medical marijuana legalization pointed to its Schedule 1 classification. Also, law enforcement worry what type of impact legalization will have on the state.

A Vanderbilt poll in 2017 showed nearly 80% support for medical marijuana legalization of some kind among Tennesseans.