NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mar. 30, 2016) – Tennessee Lawmakers killed an important medical marijuana bill in 2016, effectively maintaining the unconstitutional status quo of federal prohibition in the state.
Introduced by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), House Bill 561 (HB561) would have allowed qualified patients would be able to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, something which is illegal under unconstitutional federal drug laws.
Under the “leadership: of Chairman Andrew Farmer (R-Sevierville), the bill couldn’t even get a fair vote in the full House. In Rep. Farmer’s Criminal Justice Subcommittee, HB561 was delayed for an entire year after it’s original introduction. On Mar. 22, the bill was unceremoniously killed with a simple unrecorded voice vote.
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
If HB561 was successful, patients would have had to qualify for enrollment in the Safe Access program by having their physician approve the use of medical marijuana. With the patient officially enrolled, the program would have issued them an ID card.
Additional provisions would have made it illegal for a person to be denied entry to a school, a job position, visitation or child custody rights, or a lease with a landlord due to their use of medical marijuana.
Other provisions in the bills would have made the state department of health, department of agriculture, and board of pharmacy would report biannually to the Tennessee General Assembly, among other things, the number of patients enrolled in the Safe Access program; their debilitating medical conditions, and the number of doctors certifying patients for the program.
Anyone who disclosed confidential patient information contained in the Safe Access program would have been guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. These provisions would have made HB561 a huge step forward toward nullifying federal marijuana prohibition in the state of Tennessee.
Unfortunately, this opportunity was squandered and Tennessee residents must wait at least another year for another opportunity to legalize medical marijuana.
In Tennessee: Please express your concern to Rep. Andrew Farmer about his opposition to HB561. Please explain to him that medical patients cannot afford to wait any longer for more treatment options. Politely urge him to support future medical marijuana bills at (615) 741-4419.