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October 6th, 2014 11:49 am by Johnson City Press
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a measure into law in May to sanction a university-based study of cannabis oil and its possibilities for treating those who suffer from severe seizures. Although the study is limited in its scope, officials with the Marijuana Policy Project hope it will be the first step in getting a medical marijuana referendum on the ballot in Tennessee.
California became the first state to allow marijuana to be prescribed for medicinal use in 1996. Since that time, 21 states and the District of Columbia have either legalized medical marijuana or decriminalized its possession. Two states — Colorado and Washington — have legalized its recreational use.
A bill to legalize marijuana for medical use in Tennessee stalled in the Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year. Even so, proponents of medical marijuana hope passage of the measure to study cannabis oil will open the door to medical marijuana in this state. A recent Middle Tennessee State University poll found 75 percent of state residents surveyed agree with allowing marijuana use for medical purposes.
Supporters of medical marijuana say it can be an effective and safe treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
More than 200 people rallied in downtown Johnson City in February to voice their support for medical marijuana. Joseph Rasch, an organizer of that event, told Press Staff writer Tony Casey he hoped those attending would share stories of how marijuana has been helpful in their lives.
Law enforcement officials and drug counselors, however, fear going soft on marijuana will lead to more crime and complicate efforts to steer addicts away from other drugs. Opponents to medical marijuana also say various legal drugs are already available to treat pain.
We want to hear from you. Should a referendum on medical marijuana be placed on the ballot in Tennessee?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.
We will print responses on the Opinion pages soon.
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