Last Update: March 25, 2014
Seriously ill patients in Tennessee deserve compassion, not criminal penalties
Tennessee’s legislative session began January 14 this year, and Rep. Sherry Jones wasted no time introducing HB 1385, a compassionate medical marijuana bill. Seriously ill patients in Tennessee should not to be considered criminals for trying a safer alternative to many pharmaceutical drugs.
A recent MTSU poll found 75% of Tennesseans support allowing medical marijuana, yet the legislature has not moved to allow seriously ill patients to have safe, state-legal access to medical marijuana. Please take a moment to urge your representative and senator to support this important and compassionate bill.
The bill, known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, would establish a well-regulated medical marijuana program, similar to some of the more modern medical marijuana laws. It would make Tennessee the 21st medical marijuana state. Rep. Jones told WRCB-TV that the bill is “simply a matter of being rational and compassionate.” The bill is named after Piper Koozer, a child from Tennessee who suffers from a very serious seizure disorder, and Jeanne Kuhn, who passed away after a battle with cancer, but benefitted from the use of medical marijuana toward the end of her life.
If you’d like to know more about marijuana policy in Tennessee, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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. Tens of thousands of cases enter the system each year, families are impacted, and futures jeopardized.
Please ask your legislators to support replacing criminal penalties with civil fines for simple possession. Or, you can ask your legislators to support legalizing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use.
Also, be sure to check out this ACLU report that shows the extent to which marijuana laws are used to target members of the African American community in Tennessee. For every white person arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2001, there was an average of 1.8 arrests of black individuals. By 2010, there were four African Americans arrested for every white arrested. Studies have shown that rates of marijuana use among blacks and whites are approximately the same.
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