In late June, two Tennessee lawmakers who are also anesthesiologists proposed to introduce legislation to legalize medical marijuana. Representative Bryan Terry and Senator Steve Dickerson, both Republicans, are calling the bill the Tennessee Responsible Use of Medicinal Plants Act, or TRUMP Act.
Citing President Trump’s recent remarks hinting at his support for a change in federal law, the two lawmakers have titled their bill to appeal to Republican voters. Trump received about 60 percent of the vote in the state in 2016.
“We believe Tennessee patients and physicians have the right to participate in research utilizing cannabis and that our agricultural, higher education, and life science industries are well equipped to be world leaders in this research,” stated Dr. Terry in a press release. “If you believe in freedom, advancing medicine, and providing opportunities for our industries, then you should support Tennesseans having the right to research and the right to try agricultural medicines.”
In May, Trump signed a “right to try” bill into law. The law will allow patients with severe and/or terminal conditions to try drugs and treatments that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved. The federal bill that Trump signed was modeled on a law passed in Tennessee. In another recent development at the federal level, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the brand name of a cannabidiol (CBD) drug for the treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy.
Senator Dickerson said, “With a proven safety profile of [CBD] and of cannabis, we should be able to develop and research medical cannabis products for patients in Tennessee and our patients should have the right to participate in research and treatment under medical supervision.” The two doctors have also proposed legislation to limit the production of opioids in the state.
Dickerson and Terry also point out that Tennessee’s agricultural and medical research sectors could benefit from legal marijuana. “We envision our universities, as well as our life science and agricultural industries participating in the research and benefiting from the data while helping develop long term medical modalities for patients,” explained Terry. “For instance, MTSU, with the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medical Research, would benefit by having expanded capabilities for research opportunities.”
The two doctors have also proposed legislation to limit the production of opioids in the state. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, opioids claimed the lives of 1,631 Tennesseans in 2016. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has acknowledged that there is no evidence that anyone has died from a marijuana overdose.
“There is a growing body of evidence that cannabinoids can be of benefit” to pain sufferers who currently use opioids, explained Terry. “The TRUMP Act will allow these patients an alternative to opioids while helping our medical industry refine and develop treatments.” To further emphasize their point, Senator Dickerson stated, “Many patients in pain are going to the streets and buying illicit opioids or marijuana that may contain deadly combinations of chemicals. They are playing Russian Roulette with their lives. Having quality assured cannabis derived medicines will help combat the illicit drug problem.”
What do you think? Will the TRUMP Act pass in Tennessee? Leave a comment below.