Marijuana Legislation Proposed

Marijuana Legislation Proposed
Posted by CN Staff on March 09, 2005 at 22:38:21 PT
By Eric Cobb, Staff Writer
Source: Daily Beacon
Despite dubitable and controversial research results and in the face of fervid opposition, a handful of legislators and activists are working to add Tennessee to a short list of states that legally allow the medicinal use of marijuana.On Feb. 7, Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville, presented to the Tennessee state legislature a bill designed to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana within the state.
Simultaneously, the bill’s counterpart was filed in the Senate by Steve Cohen, D-Memphis.The drug, while remaining a societal taboo, could greatly benefit some patients suffering from glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and other ailments, Briley said. “I really sponsored the bill out of what I believe to be an issue of compassion,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. Though Briley said he is conscious that many Tennesseans will oppose the bill, he believes that it is important to stimulate discussion about cannabis in order to educate people on the benefits of the drug.“I think that once people become educated about the subject that they will agree. Until we get that point, there will be opposition,” Briley said. Not only does he face opposition within his state, but Briley’s new bill puts him at odds with the federal government’s stance on marijuana. Cannabis is classified by the FDA as a Schedule I drug that has no medicinal qualities. In contrast, both cocaine and heroin are classified as Schedule II drugs that can be prescribed.Nevertheless, Briley is banking on evidence that THC, the active compound in marijuana, is effective at combating nausea and in its natural form, found in the leaves and florets of the cannabis plant, has properties that cannot be duplicated in the lab and compacted into pills.“I don’t think the federal government really has the right to tell us whether we can use a product that would be compassionate toward our citizens,” Briley said.He said he is also aware of his opponents’ concerns that the legalization of medical marijuana is a step towards a general relaxation of the state’s drug laws. But according to Briley, it’s not an issue of legalization but an issue of medical science. “In my opinion, there is enough scientific evidence to support medicinal cannabis,” Briley said.The University of Tennessee’s chapter of NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, supports the legislation. “The best part of the new bills is that they will try to re-introduce sanity into how the cannabis plant is treated, even though their scope is severely limited to medical use alone,” Herne, a member of NORML and a medical marijuana user who didn’t wish to be further identified because of legal implications.Medical marijuana is a divisive issue, Herne said.“Tennessee was the first state to have a medical marijuana law in the 1980s, but it was repealed after a year and a half, due to pressures from law enforcement and ‘social conservatives’,” Herne said. The primary use of cannabis would be to ease the nausea or vomiting associated with HIV/AIDS and cancer. There are prescription medicines, such as Marinol, that offer concentrated doses of THC. However, these drugs may not offer the same benefits as smoking marijuana, and may even have their own downside, Herne said. “If I have to drive after taking Marinol two hours before, I can’t, whereas with marijuana, one or two puffs eliminate my nausea, and I can drive safely within an hour or so,” he said. Marijuana can also be a replacement for more dangerous narcotics, Herne said. “With medical cannabis, I have been able to wean myself off of three narcotic pain relievers needed before and immediately after my two hip replacements,” he said.The bottom line, Herne said, is how it will help to relieve his suffering, and the suffering of countless others.“Besides my own anecdotal evidence, and that of thousands of others, I believe the science,” he said.Not everyone believes that marijuana is a miracle drug. “I am not in favor of the bills,” Rep. Bo Watson, R-Rhea County and Hamilton County, said in a phone interview. “It’s a scientific position on it, not an emotional or a cultural one.”According to Watson, studies that support the medicinal use of marijuana have been subjective. “There is just not a body of evidence that someone would have you believe to support marijuana,” he said.Watson, a physical therapist, said that his experience in the medical field taught him to see the flaws in the studies that outline the medicinal properties of THC. “There just haven’t been any good empirical studies on it,” Watson said.Legalizing cannabis for medicinal use could lead to greater societal problems, he said. “I think they have a potential for a high abuse rate,” Watson said, citing a study in California that found high rates of abuse among family members of medicinal marijuana patients.California, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, Maryland and Nevada have similar laws in effect. If passed, Tennessee would be the first state in the Southeast to legalize medicinal marijuana use.Source: Daily Beacon, The (TN Edu)Author: Eric Cobb, Staff WriterPublished: March 9, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Daily BeaconContact: letters utk.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:U of Tennessee NORML Marijuana Information Links Promoting Medical Marijuana Advocates Legal Medical Marijuana Plans To Push Legalizing Med Marijuana
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on April 13, 2005 at 14:10:14 PT
AP: Update on Tennessee Bill
Medical Marijuana Bill Headed for Study Committee April 13, 2005 
 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A plan to legalize medicinal marijuana in Tennessee appears to be going up in smoke.Senator Steve Cohen, the Memphis Democrat pushing the idea, said he recognizes the state isn't ready for prescription marijuana.Cohen said he will ask that his bill allowing medical marijuana be changed to set up a study committee to look into the idea before next session.But he said it's only a matter of time before Tennessee joins the ranks of states that allow the seriously ill to buy marijuana.Copyright 2005 Associated Press
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Comment #9 posted by runderwo on March 10, 2005 at 18:52:42 PT
Use == abuse
“I think they have a potential for a high abuse rate,” Watson said, citing a study in California that found high rates of abuse among family members of medicinal marijuana patients.Uh-huh. No kidding. Considering usually it's a concerned family member that introduces the ill person to cannabis or, knowing its harmlessness, encourages them to seek a prescription from a doctor; it's a likely bet that the family member uses or has used it recreationally. As for support of keeping cannabis from medical patients, it's a vacuous statement anyway, since it doesn't even attempt to claim a causal link. The statistic sounds even more favorable for the antis, since they get to equate use of anything illegal with abuse.So what we have a is a claim that patients using medical cannabis is correlated with other family members using cannabis. Would anyone have thought otherwise?
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on March 10, 2005 at 17:00:50 PT
I can't believe I didn't see that middle word!
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Comment #7 posted by potpal on March 10, 2005 at 13:46:40 PT
A(merican) M(arijuana) A(ssociation)...Was punning around...sorry I didn't make that clear.
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Comment #6 posted by Taylor121 on March 10, 2005 at 11:40:33 PT
"The AMA said today that medicial cannabis is for real!"As far as I have seen, the AMA said no such thing. Where are you getting this from?The article:
"According to Watson, studies that support the medicinal use of marijuana have been subjective. "It it commonly argued in philosophy of natural science that all theories/studies are almost all subjective. What the heck is this guy's point? Oh wait he doesn't have one.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on March 10, 2005 at 10:53:25 PT
Got a url for that? I'd sure like to see it in print...and hear it on TV and the radio.
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Comment #4 posted by potpal on March 10, 2005 at 07:11:14 PT
American Marijuana Association...!The AMA said today that medicial cannabis is for real!Cheers...
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Comment #3 posted by siege on March 10, 2005 at 06:59:02 PT
Ko fill it out 
I would like to see it go to ballot and this time they put in it that it has a 5 years period before (they/legalization) can change any part of it. and it states that a Driving clause in it, and how much you can have. and can grow it in a canopie of xxx(x)xxx feet. and put on your driver lic. so they know. and a clause about the DEA and all fed. City and State Personal  they have to go to the States Attorney General before they can make a raid on any one with Medical Marijuana.  
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Comment #2 posted by siege on March 10, 2005 at 06:20:44 PT
legalization they killed it
The citizens VOTED it in to being once already in the late 1980's  with legalization they killed it before it became law. 
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Comment #1 posted by siege on March 10, 2005 at 06:15:06 PT
POLL IT or put it to a vote in Tennessee there is more support then he thinks.
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