A bill which would have legalized medical marijuana died in the Tennessee House on Tuesday when Health Subcommittee members voted it down 6 to 2. But patient advocates in the Volunteer State say the fight is far from over.
When the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, HB 1385, failed, it was a huge disappointment for many patients who hope to soon be able to legally use the medicine that works best. Patients and families alike reported that some members of the Tennessee Legislature ignored their pleas, and others went beyond that, treating patients with outright rudeness.
“You know, I have to say the rudeness of some of our Legislators is infuriating,” activist Dana M. Arvidson of the group MMJ for Tennesseans posted on Facebook Wednesday. “Not only do they not read our emails, or listen to us — those that voted them in, and can take them out — they do not even have the common decency to listen when another Rep is speaking.”Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), knowing that the bill she sponsored was going to be voted down, called out gutless fellow legislators in the committee. “I know there are some of you in this room who would rather die than approve the legalization of medical marijuana and make it available to people that are seriously suffering and have a very poor quality of life,” she said.
While another medical marijuana-related bill — this one, one of the watered-down, “CBD only” pieces of legislation that timid lawmakers love, because it gives them appearance of “doing something about medical marijuana” (a popular topic with their constituents) without taking any actual political risk, and while, unfortunately, helping very few patients — is still alive in the Legislature, it’s still a bitter pill for activists to swallow that a “real” medical marijuana bill won’t be happening this time around.
But — it will be happening. Trust me on this one. Whether it happens in next year’s session of the Tennessee Legislature, or even if it takes longer than that, medicinal cannabis is coming to Tennessee.
How do I know that? Because I know when people are fighting for their lives, they don’t stop fighting until it’s over.
‘I No Longer Want To Live In Pain’
I’m talking about people like Seth Green, 23, of Bluff City, Tennessee. Seth is battling cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and a seizure disorder, and has been in and out of the hospital since he was born. Last April, Seth made a Facebook post which led to his being featured in local media, in blogs, and in Sativa Magazine, to testifying before the Tennessee House Health Committee, and to attending the National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference, hosted by Americans for Safe Access, where he has been nominated for the Patient Advocate award, reports WeedBiz.
Marijuana helps to manage Seth’s cerebral palsy and his pain issues. His pain leads to more frequent seizures, putting his life in danger. “My family doctor told me to smoke marijuana even though it is illegal,” Green wrote. “I hate breaking the law, but I no longer want to live in pain.”
“I would like to reduce the pain the best way possible and without the use of artificial drugs that actually only cover up the disease and get me addicted,” Seth wrote. “Medicinal marijuana does not do either of those things. It is a cure and not a cover up.”
“I have a very difficult life with this cerebral palsy,” Seth wrote. “The pain worsens every day and it also gets worse as I get older. Marijuana relieves the muscle tightness in my throat and chest so I can actually breathe normally and reduces the anxiety attacks and seizures.”
“With no help in sight, I have taken matters into my own hands even if it means breaking the law,” Seth wrote. “I do not have the financial resources to move from the state of Tennessee… I don’t know where else to turn.”
‘They Straight Lied To My Face’
“They threw out the herbal bill where we could use marijuana with THC,” Seth told me on Wednesday. “Well now, the Republicans made a bill only for oil, with it having pretty much all CBD. But it takes THC as well. I went to personal meetings with Republicans and they straight lied to my face.”
According to Green, not content with merely lying to him, some lawmakers even indulged in personal attacks against the medical marijuana bill’s sponsors. Seth said Rep. Tony Shipley, for one, made personal attacks on the bill’s main sponsor, and insisted he wouldn’t even talk about medical marijuana “until the FDA approves it.”
“It made me so upset,” he told Toke Signals. “It was crazy. The main sponsor told me to lay low ‘because they might come after you.’ ”
“When I went to testify in front of them, I told them I wouldn’t take their man-made drugs they all approve of,” Seth told me. “I started my own research on medical marijuana, and got mad because of all the lies that the government told us.”
After he became aware of the facts, Seth took action. “I started reaching out, gathering people for the movement, and started a petition,” he told me. “Did a medical marijuana rally. And when that was over, people got fired from their jobs, just for supporting the bill.”
When Seth requested one-on-one meetings with his local state representatives, they refused to meet with him, he told me. “They said it would be a waste of time,” Green said. “They all said alcohol is safer, but the one I finally had a meeting with, Timothy Hill, said he agreed with what I had to say, and told me he is for medical marijuana.”
“Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says people use it just to get high,” Seth told me. “He has a grandchild that has cancer, but he won’t help save the grandchild’s life. If my grandchild had cancer, I’d do anything to get a cure.”
“The main reason why the bill failed this year is because all the state representatives will lose 95 percent of their funding, because they are backed by beer companies and pill companies,” Green said.
Editor’s note: The Undergreen Railroad has set up a Give Forward funding page, Greener Pastures Journey for the Cure, to help in getting to Denver to treat his cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and scoliosis. You can contribute by visiting https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/2p04/greener-pastures-journey-for-the-cure.