Here we go!
The General Assembly cranked back up last week, and while it seems some new leaders may have dampened efforts toward medical cannabis, some other cannabis bills have already been filed.
New House Speaker Cameron Sexton said of cannabis legislation, "It's against federal law. And so, until that changes, it's hard to have a discussion." However, other states have passed medical cannabis despite speakers' reluctance, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Gov. Bill Lee said he wants to "explore alternatives before we go there."
However, Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) filed a bill last week that would allow referenda in Tennessee counties that would "authorize the growing, processing, manufacture, delivery, and retail sale of marijuana within jurisdictional boundaries." The bill also "decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana statewide."
The Memphis City Council tried to lower punishments set here for the possession of small amounts of cannabis back in October 2016. The move would have allowed Memphis Police Department officers to charge anyone in possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana with a $50 fine or community service. However, state lawmakers voided the rule.
Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), who sponsored a raft of pro-cannabis legislation last year, is back this year with a new bill. Kyle wants to allow medical cannabis patients from other states immunity from Tennessee laws. If a person carries a medical marijuana patient identification card from another state and has less than a half-ounce on them, they "do not commit an offense in this state."
So, say you're a patient from West Memphis and you carry your legally prescribed cannabis with you across the bridge. If Kyle's bill were law, police here could not arrest nor charge you for carrying your medicine.
A number of other cannabis-related bills remain from the first part of the 111th legislative session. However, no major bill has yet been filed that would organize a medical marijuana system in Tennessee.
Buds of Summer
ICYMI: Major League Baseball (MLB) players won't face drug penalties from the league if they use cannabis.
MLB and the MLB Players Association announced last month that marijuana had been removed from the league's list of banned substances, and its consumption among players will now be treated the same as alcohol. Up to now, players were fined $35,000 if they tested positive for cannabis.
The new policy begins with spring training 2020, which starts on February 21st when the Rangers meet the Royals in Arizona.
- Body and Mind
- Coming soon to West Memphis
Work is underway for three dispensaries to be open soon in West Memphis, according to WMCTV.
The dispensary sites were approved by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission in 2018. At the time, no work had begun on any of the West Memphis sites. Plans were filed for the shop on OK Street in October. That one is from Body and Mind, a Vancouver-based, publicly traded company that offers dried flower, edibles, topicals, extracts, and vape pen cartridges.
West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon told WMC that the lure of medical marijuana could help people from Memphis to move to his side of the Hernando DeSoto bridge.