Tennessee introduces legislation that would allow out-of-state medical marijuana cards
A quartet of THC-related bills was introduced in Tennessee earlier this week. These bills could change the legal status of out-of-state medical marijuana ID cards as well as up the legal carrying amount to half an ounce.
State Sen. Sara Kyle and State Rep. Gloria Johnson sponsored two of these bills, with Johnson using the state’s high-tourism rate as justification for allowing out-of-state medical marijuana ID cards.
“We’re talking about 86 percent of Americans [who] believe that doctors should be able to prescribe it as medicine,” Johnson stated in a local interview. “We’re a big tourism state and a lot of people come to Tennessee. We want them to be able to bring their medicine with them and not get in trouble for it.”
Johnson has sponsored several medical marijuana legalization bills in previous legislative sessions. Her passion for pot as medicine stems from seeing her father suffer from multiple sclerosis without a good way to treat his pain.
Johnson’s other recently introduced bill would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in Tennessee.
Pot is expected to be a popular political topic in the Volunteer State, as the deadline to file proposed legislation approaches.
What would the proposed legislation do?
Two of the recently introduced measures, SB 260 and HB 234, would allow Tennesseans to carry up to a half-ounce of marijuana, so long as they have a medical marijuana identification card issued by another state.
SB 257 addresses marijuana for taxation purposes. The bill, as it is currently introduced, redefines marijuana for tax purposes. It would now match its criminal code definition.
Matt Anderson, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, stated that the measure is what is called a caption bill. A caption bill utilizes “placeholder language” which allows a legislator to introduce legislation on a specific topic, but to change the purpose of the bill at a later date. Rather like holding your friend’s spot in line!
Democrats aren’t the only legislators pushing the pot-politico agenda. State Sen. Janice Bowling, and State Rep. Ron Travis, both Republicans, have stated that they plan to introduce legislation that would establish a new government commission to regulate the marijuana industry.
Is Tennessee the next state to tackle marijuana legislation?
As of 2019, there are only 17 states in the Union that have not legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use, with Tennessee being one of them. However, the tide may be turning for the Volunteer State.
A poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University in November 2018 found that an overwhelming majority of people in the state approved of legalizing marijuana, with the official number coming in at 81 percent. Forty-four percent approved of legalizing medical marijuana and only 16 percent wanted to maintain prohibition.
Tennessean legislators have until late next week to file bills if they are going to be heard during the 2019 legislative session. With these four bills, three concrete-cannabis bills and one ear-marked for a pro-pot agenda, it is certainly going to be an interesting political year.
*Header Image: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance