Officials with the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Trade Association (TMCTA) said they withdrew the group's support for the Medical Medical Cannabis Only Act currently going through legislature.
The bill will allow Tennesseans with specific health conditions access to cannabis oil.
Executive Director Glenn Anderson announced Monday in a statement that the move was due to an amendment that removed critical regulations.
“After careful consideration, the association can no longer support the legislation because a structured, transparent and accountable regulatory framework is critical to providing safe patient access to medical cannabis," said Anderson.
The amendment, put forward by the bill’s prime House sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) on March 21, was adopted and removed all language the TMCTA said created a safe, transparent and accountable business and regulatory model critical to providing safe patient access to lab-tested, pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis.
The bills' Senate sponsor, Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), said the news of the TMCTA's decision was a setback, but he still stood by the bill. He said it isn't unusual for bills to be amended and revised throughout the legislative process.
"We're trying to figure out what we can do to move and advance the cause of medical cannabis the furthest it can be done in the next three weeks," said Sen. Dickerson.
Sen. Dickerson reiterated the bill is one of the most restrictive in the nation and it doesn't allow for recreational marijuana use. He believed it would benefit thousands of Tennesseans.
According to the TMCTA, two-thirds of the U.S. already has access to medical cannabis but not Tennesseans. Currently, Tennesseans will lose out on an industry projected to reach $20 billion in six years, and the black market will remain the only choice for otherwise law-abiding citizens seeking effective treatment for their medical conditions.
“The TMCTA is deeply disappointed this opportunity to build a projected billion-dollar industry in
Tennessee that would meet the medical needs of tens of thousands of Tennesseans will be missed,”
Anderson said. “The TMCTA will remain engaged on this issue in the future to make sure Tennessee does not continue to deny its sickest residents the freedom to work with their doctors and the right to try a treatment that works best for them. We encourage the 80 percent of Tennesseans who support medical cannabis statewide to do the same.”
The bill is scheduled to be discussed in the House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.