Is Medical Marijuana Dead in Tennessee?

After another failure to pass a law legalizing medical cannabis in Tennessee, the question of next steps in this ongoing conversation arises. Senator Kerry Roberts (R—Springfield) believes the issue could gain increasing support in the years to come, citing his move toward cannabis legalization.

According to Senator Kerry Roberts, early in his political career he shared the typical attitude of many people and refused to support marijuana. The perception of the herb was that it was a flimsy pretense for recreational use, cleverly disguised under the guise of medicinal necessity. He remained doubtful about the actual benefit.

However, with the advent of new and improved cannabis products, and the emergence of a more liberal approach in other states, he has come to realize that these products are indeed effective. Numerous people have confirmed its medicinal properties, especially in the treatment of chronic pain. It’s time to recognize its potential.

The benefits of cannabis outweigh the risks

In an interview with News 2, Roberts shared that his constituents often express satisfaction with cannabis as a cure for their chronic pain. It’s disheartening to see them crossing state lines for relief. When someone finds a solution that works for them, we need to make it available here in Tennessee. The state government should legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis so they can purchase it without having to travel long distances to neighboring states.

Despite opposition from his party, Roberts has remained steadfast in his support for legalizing medicinal cannabis. The latest attempt to pass the measure was met with disappointment after failing to get enough votes at a Senate committee hearing.

Roberts, the only Republican on the committee to support the proposal, was joined by Democratic lawmakers London Lamar and Sara Kyle, and Tullahoma Republican Janice Bowling. However, the bill was ultimately defeated for the current term due to opposition from Republican Senators John Lundberg, Todd Gardenhire, Dawn White, John Stevens, Paul Rose and Brent Taylor.

Roberts acknowledged that he could not speak for his colleagues and their reasons for opposing legalization of medicinal cannabis nationwide. However, he suspects their reluctance could be due to federal government restrictions on the drug. Currently, the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, implying that it has “no currently recognized medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other Schedule 1 drugs include LSC, heroin, ecstasy, methaqualone, peyote and heroin.

Given that marijuana is classified at the federal level, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of opposition, Roberts said. It is important to remember that we are proposing measures that challenge national regulations. If the federal government changed their stance, you would see a definite shift in opinion. Roberts stressed that the key to overcoming opposition to legalizing medicinal cannabis lay in overhauling federal government policy.

Possible abuse of the legalization of medical cannabis

Although Roberts supports the measure, Roberts acknowledged the potential for abuse of future Tennessee regulations regarding medicinal cannabis. There’s always a chance that some people use it for recreational purposes and others for medicinal purposes, he conceded. But the bill is specifically for medical purposes, and he has no problem supporting it.

Roberts reiterated that he does not support full legalization of recreational cannabis in the state. Instead, he emphasized the benefits veterans can experience with medicinal cannabis, which was a driving force behind his endorsement of the measure. He offered hope to veterans and those living with chronic pain who were disappointed with the committee’s vote this year.

Roberts expressed his support for veterans and their advocacy of medicinal cannabis. Many veterans across the state are strong supporters of medicinal cannabis, and he wants to encourage them to keep fighting. “If you suffer from chronic pain and are hoping for a change in Tennessee’s medical cannabis laws, don’t give up. Keep coming back and talking to lawmakers.” Roberts emphasized the importance of persistence in effecting change and encouraged those affected by chronic pain to keep pushing for progress.

Roberts emphasized the importance of building personal connections with lawmakers and sharing personal experiences related to the use of medicinal cannabis. He acknowledged that not all lawmakers could change their stance, but stressed that personal connections can influence their decision-making process.

Keep sharing your story and letting them know what you’re going through to find relief from your pain, Roberts advised. Putting a face to this issue and making it personal can help lawmakers better understand the implications of their decisions. It’s important to make that personal connection and share your experiences with them.

Roberts expressed his commitment to continue to support the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act. He’s confident he’ll support the bill this year, and when it comes back next year he’ll vote in favor again. Bowling, which introduced the bill, also confirmed its intention to reintroduce it next year. When the 113th General Assembly convenes, lawmakers will consider hundreds of bills, including key issues under debate. Some legislators have already commented on these issues.


The issue of legalizing medical cannabis in Tennessee remains a contentious and complex issue. While there are ardent supporters, like Senator Roberts, who believe medicinal cannabis can provide much-needed relief for chronic pain sufferers, there are also many opponents who raise concerns about potential abuse and state restrictions. Despite the backlash of the failed bill in the Senate committee hearing, proponents of medicinal cannabis are not giving up hope.

Bowling stated that she plans to get the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act back on track next year. In the meantime, individuals must continue to share their personal experiences and stories with their lawmakers in hopes of creating a deeper understanding and connection on this critical issue. With continued effort and advocacy, Tennessee may eventually join the growing number of states that have legalized medicinal cannabis for those in need.



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