If new legislation passes this session, Tennessee could become the 22nd state to legalize the adult use of marijuana.
Sen. Heidi Campbell is one of the co-sponsors of the Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act — or FACT Act. “We know already that it’s popular across the state and across parties,” Campbell said, reports New Channel 5 Nashville. “People are already going across state lines to get cannabis products.”
In 2018, an MTSU poll showed 81% of Tennesseans support legalization in some form. sa To drill down, 37% say marijuana should be legal for adult use and 44% say it should only be legal for medicinal use.
“We’re Missing Out On Billions In Revenue Every Year”
Sen. Campbell believes if people are already using Cannabis, Tennessee should be getting its share of of the tax revenue. “We’re missing out on billions in revenue every year that could be put towards education, rehabilitation, mental health and all kinds of things that surround cannabis,” she said.
But according to NewsChannel 5 political analyst, Pat Nolan, the bill doesn’t stand much of a chance. “Probably not,” said Nolan. “If Republicans thought it was a good idea, they’d probably want to prefer to pass their own piece of legislation on it. Just because they don’t like to share credit for stuff like that.”
Missouri is the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana with a Republican Governor and a GOP-controlled Legislature. Show Me State activists took the issue straight to the voters in a ballot initiative.
“It Would Probably Pass Pretty Overwhelmingly”
“Given the polls I’ve seen, it would probably pass [in Tennessee] pretty overwhelmingly,” said Nolan.
But Tennessee doesn’t allow citizen referendum issues to go on the ballot, unless it’s a constitutional amendment. And as you might expect, state lawmakers, unwilling to share much power with voters, have made that an almost impossible hurdle.
The Tennessee General Assembly use pass a bill establishing a Constitutional Convention with special electors, or it has to jump through a few hoops before it goes before voters at the polls. “Both houses of the legislature have to approve it with a simple majority — 50 votes in the house, 17 votes in the Senate,” Nolan said. “Then two years later in the next legislature, they have to vote again and this time it has to pass by 2/3rds vote in both houses.”
“This Is Something Tennessee Needs To Do”
Of course, legalizing Cannabis always seems impossible until it’s done.
Campbell says she’ll keep trying. “This is something Tennessee needs to do and it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re bringing it up every year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nolan said while adult-use Cannabis may have an uphill climb, passing medical marijuana could likely have an easier path.