Medical marijuana bills languish in Tennessee legislative committee

In 2010, the Tennessee Legislature finally got serious about a medical marijuana bill introduced by Sen. Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis) and Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis). Not only did the bill get a hearing in committee, but the committee actually passed it after it was amended from a full medical marijuana bill to a study bill. This left advocates excited for the opportunity to build on their progress.

You can understand why, then, those activists have been disappointed with the legislature’s inaction since. After introduction of House and Senate legislation aimed at allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana, both bills have sat idly in committee with no hearing on the horizon for either. Unfortunately, with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslem opposed to medical marijuana, the legislature apparently doesn’t think it’s worth taking the time to try and relieve the suffering of Tennessee residents with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious conditions. Advocates in Tennessee aren’t giving up though, and neither should you. The only way this, or any bill, gets passed is by consistently urging legislators to support it – so please do so now.

If you’d like to know more, or are looking for ways to get involved, sign up for our free email alert service for all the latest information and advocacy tools. If you or a loved one share a personal connection to this issue and would like to help by sharing your story with others, please send an email to that includes your name, address, description of your medical condition(s), and phone number at which you can be contacted. You can also head over to our action center for more ways to get involved, such as writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.

CNN profiles medical marijuana advocate Bernie Ellis


Marijuana laws in Tennessee

Did you know that in Tennessee possession of any amount of marijuana — even as little as a single gram — can land you in prison for up to a year, with a mandatory fine of between $250 and $2,500? Or that there were over 23,000 marijuana-related arrests in Tennessee in 2007, and over 82% of these arrests were for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana? That’s almost 20,000 families impacted by arrest, prosecution, fines, and related effects such as denial of employment or public benefits.

You can read more about the negative consequences of Tennessee’s marijuana laws in this excellent profile by Jon Gettman, Ph.D. You can also do something about it now by asking your state legislator to sponsor legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. It’ll only take you a minute to use our free automated email service to send a message to your elected officials in support of this sensible reform.

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