Medical marijuana task force looks to change Tennessee lawmakers’ minds

Associate Chris Hewitt holds up 7 gram bags of marijuana buds being prepared for sale at Nature Scripts medical marijuana dispensary in Murphy, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. The dispensary is one of many across the state preparing for the first day of retail legal sales starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

NASHVILLE, Tenn.(WKRN) – Supporters of Tennessee medical marijuana have always said it would take baby steps to make it legal here, but the first of its kind task force could speed up the process.

The task force to study the issue was set up last month by two Republican legislative leaders and it will have its initial meeting on Sept 21st. Supporters seem to be right that year after year, little by little more lawmakers seem at least more open minded about medical cannabis which of course is better known as medical marijuana.

Case in point is Senate Republican Caucus Chair Bill Ketron.

“I was always a ‘Hell no!’ but I am willing to listen when the issue comes back up in January,” said Ketron.

The senator recently beat cancer with radiation and a stem cell transplant, but the drugs left him, like other patients, with nausea and not wanting to eat. He’s a firm no on recreational use of marijuana, but not on its medical use.

“Some medical doctors told me cannabis helps with the appetite,” said the Senator. “And it really helps with the nausea. I am just open minded at this point.”

East Tennessee Republican Jeremy Faison who will co-chair chair the upcoming medical cannabis task force has gone from open minded, to full-fledged support. The key for him was a call from his pastor.

“He said my nephew has this rare disease and we are trying to get to Colorado because nothing else will work,” Rep. Faison said last session.

The medical cannabis task force was set up by both House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Governor Randy McNally. McNally said he needs convincing.

“I hope the committee can separate the facts from the fiction,” said McNally.

The Lt. Governor says just because other states are doing it, Tennessee doesn’t necessarily need to follow. One of the main areas of opposition to medical marijuana has been from law enforcement.

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