Tennessee medical marijuana bill clears first House hurdle

photo A marijuana plant
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - A bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana as prescribed by doctors emerged out of the House Health and Human Resources Committee today on a voice vote.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, said the bill would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to cancer and other patients.

It creates a licensure and enrollment program for the production, distribution and dispensing of marijuana for a qualifying medical condition. The measure also authorizes a person with a qualifying medical condition to enroll in a "safe access" program in which the patient can receive a prescription from a licensed practitioner for marijuana and receive the product from a licensed pharmacist at a participating pharmacy.

Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, a physician, opposed the measure, saying "we're not really trained to prescribe cannabis" and doctors "don't know how much is needed" to relieve pain or nausea.

The bill now goes to the full House Health and Human Resources Committee and must clear other panels before going to the House floor. The Senate bill has not started moving.