Legislation to legalize marijuana in Tennessee for medial purposes died for another year on Wednesday, but supporters say they’ll be trying again next year.
The bill (HB294) was the subject of a limited hearing Wednesday in the Senate Government Operations Committee, which cannot kill legislation but gave the measure by Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, a negative recommendation.
From there, the bill goes to the Senate Health Committee. But that panel has closed for the 2012 session. That means the measure is dead, but House Health Committee Chairman Glen Casada, R-College Grove, nonetheless allowed a discussion of the bill in his committee later in the day. The House sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jeanne Richardson of Memphis, then took the bill “off notice,” also meaning she’s abandoned the effort for this year.
Richardson, who because of redistricting faces a tough challenge to reelection, said she was confident the medical marijuana bill would be back next year with a better-than-ever chance – with or without her as a sponsor.
Legislation to set up a system for dispensing marijuana for medical use in Tennessee cleared a House subcommittee on voice vote today.
The measure (HB294) would have marijuana growers licensed and certified by the state Department of Agriculture, enable doctors to issue prescriptions for persons suffering from designated ailments and authorize pharmacists to fill those prescriptions.
Sponsor Rep. Jeannie Richardson, D-Memphis, said the proposed system would have the tightest regulation of any of the 16 states that now authorize sales.
The bill was approved by the House Health Subcommittee. It now goes to the full committee and will have other steps beyond that. The Senate version of the bill has yet to have its first hearing, but Richardson said sponsor Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, has indicated she will seek a vote promptly.
Nashville attorney Ted Carey, writing a Tennessean op-ed piece, explains a recent state Supreme Court ruling that could help injured patients win medical malpractice (‘med-mal’) lawsuits against doctors and other health care providers. It involves a legal technicality on admitting evidence, called the “locality rule.”
But Carey also notes that the ruling could play into politics at the Legislature, where the trend has been to make it more difficult to collect damages from doctors and other health care providers. And there’s the legislative moves that some lawyers see as attacks on the state’s courts — the move to return to popular election of the state’s top judges and to have legislators, not the Supreme Court, choose a majority of members on the Court of the Judiciary.
Excerpt from Carey’s article on the “Shipley” ruling:
Finally, there is larger politics. Legislative changes to overall tort laws, and to medical malpractice laws, in 2009 and 2011, already have been followed by significant drops in med-mal case filings, with parallel reductions in malpractice insurance premiums.
In 2009, pre-case-filing requirements were enacted by the General Assembly. Caps on damages followed in 2011. Before Shipley, the state’s doctors appeared satisfied with these steps. The doctors’ lobby planned no push for further changes in the laws in 2012, wanting to see how much difference these changes would make, once the caps take effect during late 2011.
But depending on how Shipley is viewed, the Republican legislative majority might seek to overrule Shipley by statute. The General Assembly did just that last session to another Tennessee Supreme Court decision it didn’t like — dealing with the overall standard for summary judgments. Koch says Shipley further tinkers with that same summary-judgment standard.
So is Shipley a red flag in front of the legislative bull, if you will? Or is Holder’s nothing-unusual-going-on-here concurrence right? The justices are all up for retention elections next year. What would Chicken Little say?
Hank Hayes has done an in-depth look at the interaction between state Reps. Dale Ford and Tony Shipley and state officials with considerable background on the Board of Nursing issues, all now the subject of a TBI inquiry.
Here’s his rundown:
Tennessee state Rep. Dale Ford couldn’t remember the date, but he recalled a meeting in his Nashville office with two top-level state officials to discuss the fate of three nurses suspended by the state Board of Nursing.
The date was March 7, 2011, and in the meeting with Ford were Dale Kelley, Gov. Bill Haslam’s former senior advisor on legislation, and state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper.
The licenses of the three nurses – Bobby Reynolds II, Tina Killebrew and David Stout, Jr. – were suspended by the state nursing board on March 11, 2010 for a “pattern of negligence or incompetence” related to dispensing drugs and contributing to the deaths of two patients at the now-closed Appalachian Medical Center (AMC) in Johnson City.
On May 5, 2011, the state agreed to a consent order reinstating those licenses. It was signed by a state legal counsel, the acting chair of the state nursing board and the nurses’ lawyers.
And now the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) is looking into whether state lawmakers committed misconduct advocating for those nurses.
According to a Department of Health (DOH) spokeswoman, the meeting at Ford’s office was scheduled to discuss DOH’s regulatory boards.
But Ford, R-Jonesborough, said he asked Cooper to revisit the nurses’ suspensions.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The court battle to get records of beleaguered former Knox County medical examiner Sandra Elkins provides another glimpse into Tennessee’s storied history with some of its top death investigators.
Those who work with them say they can’t explain why Tennessee’s has had so many problems with its medical examiners.
Elkins was hospitalized in 2008 after police said she threatened to kill a Knoxville police officer during a confrontation at her home. Her predecessor, Randall Pedigo, pleaded guilty to drugging and molesting young males. Former state medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy was arrested in Mississippi last year on felony marijuana possession. Before that, the state revoked the medical license of former Metro medical examiner Charles Harlan, concluding he botched several autopsies and was responsible for multiple counts of misconduct.
There have been more problems other medical examiners across the state.