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VOL. 42 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 2, 2018

Medical cannabis bill hits momentary delay

By Sam Stockard

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State Rep. Jeremy Faison took his medical cannabis bill off notice today – temporarily – because he didn’t have the votes needed to pass it in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

“We have people on the committee who’ve been a yes (vote) for the past year, and all of a sudden something happened over the weekend that we don’t know, and they’ve switched from a yes to a no,” said Faison, a Cosby Republican.

Republican Rep. Andrew Farmer of Sevierville changed his stance, according to Faison, so he is opting to wait until a supporter, Rep. Raumesh Akbari, returns to the committee.

Akbari, a Memphis Democrat, was not available to attend the committee meeting Wednesday. Farmer could not be reached immediately for comment.

Faison said he plans to put the bill back on notice Wednesday afternoon and bring it to a vote next week in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Numerous people in support of the legislation visited the Cordell Hull Building in hopes of testifying in favor of the bill, and Faison said he hopes to have them return next week.

The legislation passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week when House Speaker Beth Harwell cast a tie-breaking vote.

The bill would limit medical marijuana’s use to liquid or pill form, prohibiting smoking. It would set up a statewide commission to oversee the licensing of grow operations, prescriptions and dispensaries, and it would require local governments to hold referendums before it would be allowed. Patients would have to obtain a medical marijuana card from a prescribing physician.

Sam Stockard is a Nashville-based reporter covering the Legislature for the Memphis Daily News and Nashville Ledger. He can be reached at sstockard44@gmail.com.

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