State Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner thinks there would be more harm than good to any expansion in legal medical marijuana use for Tennessee and Gov. Bill Haslam says he doesn’t expect any such bill to pass the legislature, according to The Tennessean.
“I don’t see a big chance for that passing, but an effort could surprise me,” Haslam told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
…”Currently, the weight of evidence is that when marijuana is used as medicine, it will do more harm than good to the overall population of our state,” Dreyzehner said (at a Senate committee hearing on medical marijuana).
Those comments echo statements from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The Blountville Republican said Tuesday morning any attempt to legalize medical marijuana would face “tough sledding” during the upcoming legislative session.
“I’m not convinced yet that medical marijuana in and of itself is not a step toward legalization of marijuana. And I don’t think that’s something we want to do,” Ramsey said.
“I think even the states that have done that are having second thoughts now, I really do. … I don’t think (a bill will) have much of a chance this year.”
The senators discussed a proposal from state Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, that would create a system to legally grow, process, sell and use marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state. Although lawmakers briefly discussed the proposal earlier this year, it was kicked to a designation called “summer study,” a move frequently used to kill legislation.
Dickerson defended his legislation Tuesday, saying it’s a step toward easing the pain of tens of thousands of Tennesseans. He disagreed with several characterizations offered by health department officials as to the possible effects of marijuana. After disputing points made by the department, he asked Dreyzehner whether any data or evidence would change his mind.
“I don’t see any way that experimenting in this fashion by going out on this current natural experiment helps our overall population health,” Dreyzehner said.
Leaders of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Sheriffs Association, Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference also said they opposed any additional legalization.