NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The idea of legal medical cannabis or marijuana appeared to gain another conservative Republican convert on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill Thursday.
“The era of Reefer Madness is over,” said Rep. Bob Ramsey, who referenced the 1930s cult movie about the perceived dangers of marijuana.
Ramsey is one of the legislative members on the medical cannabis task force which held its last meeting today before the Tennessee General Assembly begins its yearly session in January.
“The sponsors as I see it have developed the best bill that has been developed in the United States,” added Ramsey, who said he initially was reluctant to serve on the task force.
One of those sponsors and co-chair of the task force is Rep. Jeremy Faison, who has become a passionate advocate for legal medical cannabis.
“Some of my friends go to the drug store for help. Some go to the liquor store. Some go to natures store. The liquor store and the drug store kill way more,” Rep. Faison detractors at the task force meeting.
Among those in the packed room was a young man who served as an infantryman in Iraq.
Matt Walczyk would like to see medical cannabis available to help former soldiers like himself who struggle with post- traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
PTSD causes paranoia. Its one of the main symptoms and you have these individuals who have to go into the criminal element just to find their medication,” said the former soldier.
Those needing convincing about medical marijuana include most law enforcement officials, but the co-chair of the task force had some words for them.
“Law enforcement we love them, but they are wrong on this one,” said Rep. Faison told News 2. “They are supposed to enforce law not dictate law, hope your listeners understand that. We pass laws not law enforcement.”
Faison said he expects an “avalanche of testimony” on both sides of medical marijuana issue when the session begins.
Other testimony Thursday included an Arkansas lawmaker who is putting that state’s medical marijuana program together after voters approved it last year.