Tennessee Republican Advocates Cannabis for Veterans with PTSD

By: Timothy Bidon

It was a long fight, but earlier this year one of the most conservative states in the nation passed a medical marijuana program into law. The program was designed to be among the most strict in the nation. Indeed, patients in Tennessee are only allowed limited amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for limited ailments such as epilepsy. Furthermore, patients in Tennessee must surrender their driver’s licenses before enrolling in the medical marijuana program. Regardless of all this, the state’s medical program was regarded as a victory amongst advocates given that it was drafted and passed through a majority republican state house.

Now, another Tennessee republican who touts a “no-nonsense” approach to drug policy is the unlikely face leading a fight for expanded access for veterans. Jeremy Faison, a state legislator, has put a bill before the Tennessee legislature that would decriminalize marijuana possession for veterans suffering from PTSD. While the move is incremental, it’s making waves in the state.

Patients suffering from PTSD typically experience difficulty sleeping as well as disturbing nightmares that plague their mental health. Speaking to The Tennessean, Faison explained the reasoning behind his proposed bill: "I've spoken with many veterans who have fought for our country who have looked and know the side effects of prescription drugs. They know the side effects of alcohol, and they desperately want to be able to use the cannabis plant," Faison said.

One of Faison’s most outspoken critics is is Representative Sherry Jones, a democrat from Nashville. While she applauds Faison’s bill as a step in the right direction, Jones argues that it is unfair to single out such a small portion of the population. Instead, she advocates a broader scope of medical marijuana access in her home state, far beyond exclusively veterans with PTSD.

Despite her criticisms, Jones has indicated that she plans to support Faison’s bill anyway because, in her view, it is still incrementally more positive. Ultimately, what medical marijuana advocates hope to see in Tennessee is a broader dialogue surrounding the benefits of medical marijuana. Indeed, as this unlikely legislation shows, that dialogue is starting to take root.

Lead image source: Truth in Media