Bernie Ellis for MMJ on FoxNews 17

Published on Feb 11, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s an illegal drug that many use to get high, but a group of patients across Tennessee says marijuana is also an important medicine. As more states continue to allow medical marijuana, Tennessee lawmakers wrestle with this issue. The prospects for changing the law in the Volunteer State remain low, but advocates aren’t giving up. In an isolated hollow in Maury County, Bernie Ellis is recovering from his most recent hip replacement. For now, tending his expansive garden is difficult.

I feel like I’m in my spiritual center when I’m in the garden, says Ellis.

For over 20 years, Ellis has lived with Degenerative Joint Disease and Fibromyalgia. It helps explain why his love of gardening developed into a new pursuit: growing medical marijuana on his property.

Being able to get a good night’s sleep, cannabis really helped with that, says Ellis.Ellis used marijuana to relieve his symptoms for years, and eventually supplied AIDS and cancer patients with the drug.

Then came the day in 2002 when he was working on his farm and looked to the sky.I saw a helicopter flying very low, says Ellis.State and federal agents raided his property, seized his plants and Ellis plead guilty. Suddenly, the respected Public Health Epidemiologist couldn’t find a job. Now Ellis has a new public health passion: making marijuana a legal medicine.

It certainly has quite a potential to help a number of sick and dying people, and we would make it available, says Ellis.

18 states and the District of Columbia now allow medical marijuana. 2 states, Washington and Colorado, have approved recreational use of the drug. While the South has resisted legalization, last November a referendum to permit medical marijuana in Arkansas failed by just 2 percentage points. Here in Tennessee, the issue has been debated on Capitol Hill for years, and even passed a House Subcommittee in 2012.

I don’t know why we would want people to suffer, says Representative Sherry Jones (D-Nashville).Representative Jones supports legalization. She believes marijuana relieves pain and helps people with diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. For Jones, the issue is also personal.My brother died 2 years ago, after about 8 months in the hospital with Crohn’s Disease, and he wished that he had been able to have medical marijuana, says Representative Jones.

Any change in the law would include restrictions and oversight, but many believe, in the end, it’s bad public policy.Introducing a drug that is overused and abused by so many people, I just don’t think that’s a good idea, says Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).Senator Hensley is also a board certified physician. He has a number of concerns and says not enough research has been done on medical cannabis.Doctors don’t know how to prescribe it, you don’t know how much to prescribe for what illnesses, says Senator Hensley.This year, with Republicans in firm control on Capitol Hill, the issue may be dead on arrival.What’s the chance of medical marijuana passing right now? asks FOX17 NEWS’ John Dunn.Well, I think 2 chances, says Senator Hensley. Slim and none.

Bernie Ellis now takes 9 medications for his diseases. Before the raid, he only used marijuana.I really think this is the most, could be and should be the most politics free issue that the legislature faces this year, says Ellis.

For Ellis, it’s about compassion, believing the plant he used to grow, the plant that changed his life, offers so much potential.The time is definitely now to move forward, says Ellis.

Last year the 2 lawmakers who sponsored a medical marijuana law in Tennessee were both voted out of office, making the prospects for this change even lower. Advocates have a strong voice in Tennessee. Tuesday on TENNESSEE MORNINGS you’ll hear from the Chairman of a national organization fighting to reform marijuana laws, who happens to live in Nashville. You’ll hear why his own personal experienced helped to strengthen his belief.

6 Responses to Bernie Ellis for MMJ on FoxNews 17

  • It helps my cerebral palsy, back pain an seizures i know what he is going through i hope Tennessee will look what Kentucky just did an legalize it would bring in income to the farm lands in Eastern Tennessee and Middle Tennessee……… Don’t let the people that need it suffer anymore

  • Tennessee & the people who run it are morally bankrupt & an absolute disgrace & this is from a lifelong resident.

  • I want all libertys my fellow americans in washington and calorado have.one nation.united statse.liberty and justice for all.dose this mean anything anymore?im keven shell and i aproove this message.

  • I think I have a story mm-Ellis & the Tenn. marijuana issue that may help the case tremendously! sometimes the answers are right in front of u!

  • I suffer from P.T.S.D due to my mothers murder and my first husbands suicide i also have had many other psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and i have some social anxiety issues all diagnosed i do not take nerve medication nor do i believe in taking them to blur reality instead i smoke cannabis to help control the anxiety attacks and though i feel they cant completley stop those or panic attacks it does help to reduce the frequency i also have back issues that started at only 14me years old and at 27 have been diagnosed with R.A so i have issues with my knees especialy in the winter i also have sists in my uterous and even with a headache, nausea and even restlessness cannabis has helped me… i dont even take asprin or tylonol in fact when i get a cold or fever i only use honey and lemon juice! Not only is cannabis good for medical use but also its a fast growing plant that can be used to make building materials homes clothes and yes even fuel it is also good for the economy in so many was so many less people in jail over it we must feed and cloth and spend taxx money on, tax money we can make, jobs we can create and it is not something we can give up on

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