Will Medical Marijuana Be On the Ballot in Tennessee in 2022?
There is a chance that this year, medical marijuana might be coming for those with qualifying conditions, and your vote could help make it happen.
Democratic Representative Jason Powell has presented a resolution to the General Assembly that would allow voters to get the final say on whether Tennessee opens a medical marijuana market. While some people are already voicing their rejection of the effort, Powell has bipartisan support.
So while it’s a longshot, 2022 could end up being the year of medical marijuana in Tennessee.
Representative Seeking Relief for Suffering Constituents
Powell told Knoxville CBS affiliate WVLT that his legislation was motivated by his desire to help suffering Tennesseans, allowing voters to have a say in the issue.
“It’s time for Tennesseans, especially those who are suffering and would benefit from medical cannabis,” Powell said.
In a press release, Powell said “Tennesseans should have access to a comprehensive medical cannabis program in our state. No Tennessean suffering from an approved medical condition should have to drive hours out of state to purchase medical cannabis. Furthermore, Tennesseans should be able to legally grow and sell medical cannabis here in Tennessee.”
Proposal Would Amend Constitution to Allow Medical Marijuana
Powell also explained in his press release that his proposal would involve amending the state Constitution, which would require the support of the voters come November.
“I firmly believe an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution is the best path for legalizing medical cannabis in Tennessee,” Powell was quoted as saying in the press release. “Voters should have the opportunity to decide this issue and I simply ask my legislative colleagues to give Tennesseans the choice to vote on a medical cannabis program.”
Early Bipartisan Support for Medical Marijuana Proposal
While Republicans have traditionally been the staunchest opponents of medical marijuana both nationally and here at home, that has begun to show signs of changing. It is perhaps isn’t surprising that one Republican in the statehouse has already voiced her support for Powell’s proposal.
Senator Becky Massey told WVLT that she has supported medical marijuana legislation in the past for very personal reasons, saying “Watching my brother-in-law pass away from ALS, watching my sister die; when nothing else works, I don’t see how we can deny it to people.”
Some Lawmakers Continue to Oppose Medical Marijuana
There has also been early resistance to Powell’s proposal from legislators who are less in step with the will of the voters.
Senator Richard Briggs, a medical doctor, told WVLT that he opposed any efforts to legalize medical marijuana, because despite its medicinal properties, he does not view it as medicine. “Marijuana is a plant and not a medicine and I just don’t like unregulated things being prescribed by people with no medical training,” Briggs said.
Briggs’ response sidestepped the fact that under the proposed amendment, patients could only use medical marijuana “upon the advice of the patient's physician,” so there would be no “unregulated things being prescribed by people with no medical training.” Furthermore, only patients with approved conditions could receive medical marijuana, so the medicine would not be unregulated. Finally, the program would also be supervised by the state, so there could be further safeguards to prevent unqualified users from receiving the medicine.
Tennessee Voters Want Medical Marijuana
Powell told WVLT that “I think (medical marijuana is) extremely popular and if it’s on the ballot it will pass.”
While we can’t say for sure that the voters would support this specific proposal, it is absolutely true that medical marijuana is popular among Tennesseeans. While survey results vary, approximately 81% of Tennesseeans support legalizing cannabis for at least medical purposes, if not for recreational use.
Tennesseeans are understandably frustrated then that their state is one of only thirteen where medical marijuana is still unavailable.
Proposed Medical Marijuana Amendment Remains a Longshot
Despite the demand from voters for a medical marijuana program to be established here, Powell’s proposal remains a longshot.
Before the issue could make its way onto the ballot in November, ⅔ of both houses of the General Assembly would have to vote for it. And while Republican resistance to medical marijuana is no longer as staunch or unified as it once was, the GOP remains more likely to oppose medical marijuana than support it. Given that the General Assembly is dominated by Republicans, the legislation would have to overcome significant resistance from legislators before voters got to have their say.
Mississippi Shows What Happens When Obstructionist Politicians Meet Determined Voters
If enough voters make their opinions known and insist that their representatives abide by the will of the voters, all bets are off. Consider what our neighbors to the south in Mississippi have experienced recently.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative in November of 2020 to establish a medical marijuana market there. After the state Supreme Court voided the result on a technicality, the governor began dragging his feet on a promise to convene a special session of the legislature so that a replacement medical marijuana bill that representatives had spent most of 2021 writing could be passed.
Voters responded with phone calls, letters, and public protests, leaving no doubt where they stood on the issue of medical marijuana. When the legislature reconvened this year, they quickly passed the bill, and after some initial reluctance, the governor signed it into law.
It just goes to show that politicians may play games and throw obstacles in their constituents’ paths, but if enough voters make enough noise, they can’t be ignored forever.
So if you’re tired of waiting for the benefits that only medical marijuana can offer, let your representatives know that you’re ready for relief.
Let Us Help You Prepare for Medical Marijuana’s Inevitable Arrival in Tennessee
You have to wait for the General Assembly to catch up to the will of the voters before you’ll be able to get medical marijuana here, but you can start getting ready for that day right now.
Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our qualified, compassionate doctors just as soon as Tennessee’s medical marijuana market is operational. You’ll discuss your conditions and if you qualify for a Tennessee Marijuana Card, and you’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Tennessee Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 781-5611, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Tennessee Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information!