marijuana

Bill targeting prosecutorial discretion has massive loophole

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House and Senate Republicans are charging ahead with a bill aimed at Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk for refusing to prosecute certain crimes, like possession of small amounts of marijuana or refusing to post signs warning about transgender people being to use bathrooms of their choosing.

Under the bill advancing Thursday, the courts could be petitioned by the state attorney general to insert a special prosecutor to bring charges in cases where a locally elected prosecutor “categorically” refuses to do so without considering the facts in each case.

Supporters say the bill does nothing to prevent a prosecutor from declining to bring charges in individual cases based on a variety of factors like lack of evidence, a bad police search, or even a plea agreement.

But the legislation doesn’t appear to have clear handle on how the issue could be forced if someone like Funk were to say, “Fine, we won’t categorically rule out prosecutions,” and then promptly decline to bring charges in any of the relevant cases.

The fact is that no prosecutor around the state has the resources to bring charges in every single instance of minor drug possession. And the price tag for requiring them to so would likely be prohibitive. So, Republicans upset that the Democratic district attorney in Nashville is happily thumbing his nose at them want to seek retribution through legislation.

But the likeliest outcome is some slight variations in what he says. Either that, or Funk simply continues to thumb his nose at GOP lawmakers. He is up for re-election in August, after all.

And I will advertise it: Dickerson talks marijuana in latest spot

Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson’s latest ad touts his leading role in efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. Dickerson is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Heidi Campbell this year.

“This is a marijuana plant,” Dickerson says in the ad the camera zooms in on an image of a sparkling cannabis flower.

Here’s what Dickerson says in the rest of the spot:

As your state senator, I’ve led the fight to legalize medical marijuana so our veterans and sickest Tennesseans can deal with chronic pain. But this same life-saving plant has led to mass incarceration, with non-violent marijuana possession resulting in lengthy prison sentences. I think that’s wrong. That’s why I’ve been pushing for criminal justice reform. I’m Dr. Steve Dickerson, and I put people before politics.

Tennessee to allow weed investment to go pot

The “policy implications” of the state’s retirement fund’s investment into a company operating in the marijuana sector has Treasurer David Lillard ordering the shares be sold, according to a report by Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

That’s despite a 26% gain in share price of San Diego-based Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. since the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System’s small-stock fund bought 7,009 shares in April or May.

The company is a real estate Investment trust that bills itself as the “leading provider of real estate capital for the medical-use cannabis industry.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Tennessee was among more than dozen states that stood to benefit from Illinois’ new recreational marijuana. Illinois is one of 11 states where Innovative Industrial Properties does business.

Michael Brakebill, the pension fund’s chief investment officer, told the Times Free Press that the investment into the company was part of a small-company stock index the state created.

Lillard said it’s difficult to evaluate every stock that’s part of an index, but that “we’ve got to figure out a way to do that and deal with it because it highlights the fact that you know what you’ve got in portfolio.”

The investment in Innovative Industrial Properties is worth about $720,000 out of the state’s $52 billion retirement system.

“The bottom line is I have ordered Michael and his staff to sell this investment, and we won’t have it after today or tomorrow, whenever the transaction goes down,” Lillard told the paper.

Tennessee lawmakers have balked in recent years to join states legalizing medical or recreational cannabis.

 

Lee wants to ‘explore alternatives’ to medical marijuana legalization

Republican Gov. Bill Lee wants to “explore alternatives” before the state takes steps to legalize medical marijuana, WKRN-TV reports.

“I think we ought to expand the use of low-THC CBD oils first to alternative treatments before we go there,” said Lee said.

A renewed effort to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee would establish a framework to license growing and dispensing cannabis. Supporters note  that 33 states representing two-thirds of the national population have already enacted medical marijuana programs. They also argue legalization would lead to a significant drop in opioid abuse.

Recreational use would remain banned under this year’s bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) and Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). The measure would require patients suffering from a specific set of maladies to obtain a cannabis card from a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner.

Harwell’s latest ad touts support for medical marijuana

Republican gubernatorial candidate Beth Harwell has a launched a new TV ad touting herself as the only Republican gubernatorial candidate who supports legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee.

“I am the only Republican candidate for governor who supports legalizing doctor-prescribed medical cannabis,” she said. “Many suffer: veterans, children with seizures, cancer patients, our elderly. I just know if were my loved one, I would want this option.”

Harwell notes in the ad that President Donald Trump agrees, showing footage of the president saying “I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree?”

Harwell concludes the ad by saying: “Opioids must not be our only option for those in pain.”

Here’s the full ad:

 

Latest effort to legalize medical marijuana in TN: The TRUMP Act

Heartened by President Donald Trump’s recent comments about marijuana, two Tennessee lawmakers who are physicians plan to renew efforts next year to legalize medical cannabis and are naming the bill after the president, reports the Times Free Press.

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Faison criticized for medical marijuana support by GOP challenger in House District 11

In a “spirited and at times heated debate,” House Government Operations Chairman Jeremy Faison was criticized on several matters by Greg Fodness, who is challenging him in in the House District 11 Republican primary, reports the Newport Plain Talk. One hot topic was Faison’s advocacy of legalizing medical marijuana in recent legislative sessions.

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MTSU Poll: Most Tennesseans support citizenship for ‘dreamers,’ limited marijuana legalization

Press release from Middle Tennessee State University

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Solid majorities of Tennessee voters express support for immigrants in the country illegally, especially the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the country as children, according to the latest MTSU Poll.

In other results that may raise eyebrows, a broad majority of Tennessee voters support at least limited marijuana legalization. Even 51 percent of self-identified evangelical Christians surveyed say they support legalization for medicinal use.

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Push for passage of medical marijuana bill abandoned for 4th consecutive year

Sponsors of the “Medical Cannabis Act” gave up their push for passage of the bill for 2018 on Tuesday, acknowledging there’s no enough support for legalizing use of marijuana derivatives in medications among colleagues in the General Assembly.

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Medical marijuana bill watered down, still stalled

The House sponsor of a bill to allow Tennesseans’ use of medical cannabis performed major surgery on the legislation in a committee Wednesday, discarding a number of controversial provisions in an effort to soften opposition. But the Times Free Press reports there was still opposition even after the bill’s scope was substantially reduced and a vote was put off for another week.

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