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Obama administration to respect states' rights on medical pot; Will TN legalize?

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared this week that President Obama’s campaign promise to stop “using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws” is now the active policy of the United States government.
That could at least partially change the parameters of debate over whether or not to legalize medicinal cannabis when the subject comes up for discussion again in the Tennessee Legislature later this session.
Bills that would allow people suffering debilitating illness to use medical marijuana have been introduced again this year in both the House and Senate.
Senate Bill 209, sponsored by Sen. Beverly Marrero, has been assigned to the Senate General Welfare, Health & Human Resources Committee. House Bill 368 has been assigned to the Public Health and Family Assistance Health Subcommittee of the Health and Human Resources Committee. It is sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis.
In the past Tennessee lawmakers who oppose protecting medical marijuana-users from state and local prosecution have expressed concern that any move by the state to relax pot prohibition would invite federal intervention.
“The federal is what counts, does it not?” said Rep. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, during a November 2007 medical marijuana hearing. “I just don't understand how any state passes a law that is different than the federal.”
Proponents of medical marijuana are somewhat hopeful a shift in federal priorities away from targeting medical marijuana patients, dispensaries and doctors who prescribe the plant will give them a better starting point from which to advocate changing Tennessee law, which currently bans cannabis sale and use under any circumstance.
At the same time, they’re not overly optimistic or naïve:  “It’s not like facts or evidence mattered to many of the people who were opposed to medical marijuana before, but hopefully at least the Obama administration is serious about this,” said one supporter.




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