The push to legalize medical marijuana this year in Tennessee is officially dead. A bill that was introduced in the House was getting some consideration, but due to what sounds like reefer madness fears, the effort to get the legislation moving couldn’t get off the ground. As it stands right now, patients have no protections from prosecution in Tennessee, and possession of a half ounce or less is punishable by a $250 fine and up to a year in jail. If a patient is caught possessing just 14.1 grams or more it’s a felony, punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to 6 years in prison.
The two biggest reasons cited for opposition to the legislation are not new, and should be no means have tanked the legislation given the amount of information out there. The bill’s sponsor, Jeremy Faison, has been highlighting the facts that cannabis is an effective medicine and would help reduce Tennessee’s reliance on opioids. Marijuana opponents disagreed from what it sounds like. Per The Tennessean:
The discussion in the House Health Committee on Tuesday was centered around a few testimonies that spread the gamut of those who support the use of medical marijuana and others who insist that medical research has not been conclusive about its benefits, specifically as it pertains to contributing to the decline of opioid abuse.
Faison said Tennesseans are overwhelmingly supportive of the measure. Specifically, he cited a poll from Tennesseans for Conservative Action poll in January, which indicated 52 percent of those polled — who Faison described as “hardcore tea party Republicans” — supported medical marijuana legislation and 31 percent opposed it.
Other polls, like those from MTSU and Vanderbilt, have shown similar trends in support across the state for the effort to legalize medical use of marijuana.
As far as research goes, a quick search for ‘marijuana’ on pubmed.gov yields 24,983 studies on cannabis. To put that into perspective a search for ‘ibuprofen’ returned 12,425. ‘Nyquil’ only returns 12 results. Anyone who says that there is not enough research out there has either not done their homework, or refuses to accept the facts and would rather stick their head in the ground and cling to failed, harmful public policy.
And when it comes to the claim that there’s not enough proof that cannabis can help people kick opioids, debunking is easy. Below are results from two studies proving exactly that, via Uncle Cliffy:
“The treatment of chronic pain with medicinal cannabis in this open-label, prospective cohort resulted in improved pain and functional outcomes, and a significant reduction in opioid use.” - Haroutounian S, Ratz Y, Ginosar Y, Furmanov K, Saifi F, Meidan R, Davidson E. (2016)
“Among study participants, medical cannabis use was associated with a 64% decrease in opioid use (n = 118), decreased number and side effects of medications, and an improved quality of life (45%). This study suggests that many CP patients are essentially substituting medical cannabis for opioids and other medications for CP treatment, and finding the benefit and side effect profile of cannabis to be greater than these other classes of medications.” - Boehnke KF, Litinas E, Clauw DJ. (2016)