Medical cannabis effort fails in Tennessee as Senate sponsor halts bill

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Sen. Steve Dickerson(Photo: File/Jae S. Lee/The Tennessean)Buy Photo

The sponsor of a bill that would legally allow some Tennesseans to use medical cannabis killed the proposal Tuesday. 

Speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, said he did not have the support to advance the measure in the upper chamber. 

“Unfortunately, I do not have the votes,” Dickerson said.

“Instead of dragging this out interminably … I think the better decision at this point is to put it in the general sub for the summer” he said, referring to the place where legislation dies. 

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Dickerson said he was making the decision despite weeks of work on the bill in the House. 

Last week, a House committee approved an amended version of the bill that would give those suffering from roughly a dozen maladies a legal defense if they are arrested and prosecuted for having cannabis, provided they have a doctor’s note.

The Senate version would have required eligible patients to obtain registration cards to legally have cannabis while also creating a new state board.

Dickerson said he favored the originally drafted bill over the amended version, which he said would have a negative impact on residents. 

“I fear that if we passed the water-down version of this bill, it would essentially forestall any efforts to have a much more widespread, much more thoughtful legislative construct for several years.”

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