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Medical cannabis moves forward in Tennessee (... and is gaining momentum)

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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:00 PM
Original message
Medical cannabis moves forward in Tennessee (... and is gaining momentum)
Edited on Thu May-13-10 04:15 PM by Fly by night
http://wpln.org/?p=17570

Medical Marijuana Study Moves Forward
In State House

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, by Joe White
(WPLN, Nashville)

A bill to allow medical marijuana in Tennessee has gone further than ever before in the state legislature. Lawmakers are now signaling that they might be at least willing to study how it would work.

Originally, Representative Jeanne Richardson proposed allowing marijuana to be available by prescription in Tennessee. That would have made Tennessee one of only a handful of states that allow the drug to be used medically. To keep the proposal alive, Richardson changed it to require only a study of the issue, by the four state departments that would regulate such a prescription program.

"For instance, in the production, the growing of it, the Department of Agriculture would be involved, ...in terms of the security, who could do it, and who would be certified to do it. ....

The bill goes to the House Finance Committee as early as next week. It is the furthest such a bill has ever advanced in a Tennessee General Assembly ....
----

Guys,

We appear to have crossed the threshold here in Tennessee. We are now openly discussing the re-establishment of our state's medical cannabis program with all major legislative players in our House. (The Senate is another matter entirely.) We are also engaged in serious (and multiple) conversations with several state agencies that would play major roles in our proposed program. The legislators and agency heads are interested enough in our Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act to have actually read the bill. They know and believe (as we do) that we have indeed proposed the most tightly-related medical cannabis program ever introduced in this country, and the most patient-friendly program. (We're happy to defend either of those claims with anyone.)

My heartfelt thanks to DU, and to DUers, who follow and discuss the rapidly changing world of cannabis policy. This forum has been a wonderful place to discuss the broad issues related to ending reefer madness once and for all. It has also been a place to share (and to get feedback on) our emerging plans here in Tennessee. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the program, I will copy a reasonably short description of the Safe Access program as a response below.)

I would also be happy to actually pay attention to this thread and respond to any comments/suggestions, etc.

There is wind in our medical cannabis sails here in the mid-South, folks. (And the sails are made of hemp.) We've still got a great deal of work to do, but we are definitely moving this issue forward, and to the forefront, farther than it has been in decades.

We might just help end the madness soon, and mark its passage as the idiocy that existed within our human race for the life-span of one old man. (That's how my Shoshone friends up in Wind River country count time).

Praise be the Goddess. (Now back to work.)

FBN


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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. So glad to hear this.
And are you all dried out yet?

That was some report (great writing) you filed here - hope things are getting a bit back to "normal."
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 07:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
12. Thanks kindly. Somehow National Public Radio heard about my flood piece ...
... the day after I posted it here. They asked me to edit it down a bit and then they published it (on the NPR homepage), calling it "A Flood View from my Tennessee Deep Hollow Home." I was real tickled about that.

Here's the link to the NPR piece:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12...
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-14-10 02:30 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. Oh Wow! How totally delightful.
Glad you got the well deserved kudos. And I will check it out in the AM when I am a bit more alert.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
2. K n fkn R
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yowzayowzayowza Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Another. n/t
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
3. Here's a description of our Safe Access program (in a big nutshell)
The Time is Now to Pass the Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act

Introduction

Over the past two decades, there have been more than 15,000 articles in medical journals about the medicinal uses of medical cannabis. This plant contains over 60 different bioactive agents, and they have demonstrated potent anti-nausea, pain reduction and appetite stimulation properties. The medically useful substances in cannabis have also been shown to slow the progression of serious auto-immune diseases, and to act as an anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic and vasodilator.

This abundant evidence from medical research around the globe convinced both the American College of Physicians and (last November) the American Medical Association to call for the federal government to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. In their review of the literature, the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health declared:

"Research has demonstrated that cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite, and relieves spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis."

This growing consensus among health professionals that medical cannabis has sufficiently demonstrated its efficacy and safety to be removed from Schedule 1 has been matched by a policy decision by the US Department of Justice (released last October) not to interfere with lawfully-established and administered state-level medical cannabis programs. These massive shifts in cannabis policy by the federal government and leading medical organizations are encouraging a more assertive effort to allow state-level programs to be developed and implemented.

Fourteen states (and the District of Columbia) to date have established medical cannabis programs, and fourteen more states (besides Tennessee) are now discussing implementation. We have had over a decade to watch how some states' medical cannabis programs operate, so we know what we want and what we do not want in a medical cannabis program for Tennessee.

That is why the Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act was filed. If enacted, the Safe Access program will be the most tightly controlled medical cannabis program in the country, and the most patient-friendly. We hope you will support it.

Tennessees Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act: What It Will Accomplish

The Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2511/HB 2562) was introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly on January 13, 2010. Unlike every other medical cannabis program in the US (existing or planned), the Safe Access act will establish a state-managed program that will be the most tightly controlled medical marijuana program in the country. It will also be the most patient-friendly.

Under the Safe Access program, farmers will be trained, supervised and licensed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to produce medical cannabis under secure, safe specifications, including growing only cannabis strains of known chemical composition to make sure that the medicine is safe, reliable and targeted to provide maximum relief to patients suffering a discrete set of medical conditions.

Farmers will be allowed to sell their medical cannabis only to licensed processors, who will process, package and distribute the cannabis under the strict supervision of the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy.

These licensed processors will be allowed to sell medical cannabis only to regulated dispensaries that will sell medical cannabis to eligible patients for the Safe Access program. Both dispensaries and patients will be under the strict supervision of the Tennessee Department of Health.

Eligible patients will obtain medical cannabis from these dispensaries (and perhaps, one day, participating pharmacies) with a recommendation from their health practitioners and without the need to go through a separate review and approval process.

Patients can participate in the Safe Access program if they are diagnosed with one of the following serious medical conditions and they have received a certification for program participation from their health practitioners.

Cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
HIV/AIDS
Hepatitis C
Wasting Syndrome
Severe, Debilitating and Chronic Pain
Severe Nausea
Epilepsy
Glaucoma
Crohn's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
Enrolled in (end-of-life) hospice program

The Tennessee Department of Health will convene an advisory panel that is empowered to consider and recommend modifications to the Safe Access program, including the future inclusion of other serious qualifying medical conditions, in a systematic manner.

Medical cannabis through the Safe Access program will be priced at a very reasonable rate (e.g., $60/ounce), with 40% of that amount going to the farmer, 20% to the processor, 20% to the dispenser and 20% to the state to fully fund the Safe Access program. Excess state revenues will go to indigent health care and substance abuse treatment. Even with this low pricing (one-fourth to one-tenth what illegal cannabis now costs), the Safe Access program will provide significant revenues to farmers and to the state from its inception.

Safe, effective, inexpensive, highly-regulated and controlled medical cannabis
Available to seriously ill patients as soon as their health practitioners decide it is needed
Eliminating the need for any involvement with, or support of, the illegal marijuana market

The Safe Access program is the best-conceived method to date for making medical cannabis available to seriously ill Tennesseans in a safe, secure, controlled, cost-effective and patient-centered fashion.

For more background information on the Safe Access program, read these articles:

www.nashvillescene.com/2010-01-28/let-s-roll/

http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2010/01/sen_marrer...

To help us get this model legislation passed, please contact us at rose.cox@gmail.com

Now is the time for safe access.
Support the Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Way to Testify FLY
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. For a real taste of my "testifying", try this clip from last month.
Edited on Thu May-13-10 04:46 PM by Fly by night
http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=28&cli...

We were very fortunate to be given almost an hour to give testimony on the Safe Access bill to the House Health and Human Resources committee on Apri1 13. This clip will take you to my testimony (and that of a widower whose wife used cannabis to fight chemotherapy-induced severe nausea) as well as the question-and-answer session that followed.

My testimony starts about 8-12 minutes in, after Rep. Jeanne Richardson introduces the bill.

Enjoy.

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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thanks for the link
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
5. K/R
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SocialistLez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
6. Just legalize it. NT
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
8. Here's our latest hand-out about the fiscal impact of the Safe Access program.
Edited on Thu May-13-10 04:27 PM by Fly by night
I have told legislators that if the Safe Access program evolves as we expect, we might have 150,000 patients enrolled in five years, and the Safe Access program would be a $450 million per year program at that point (with almost $200 million going to our farmers and $90 million coming to the state.)
---

What is the Fiscal Impact of the TN Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act? ($Millions$)


The Tennessee Safe Access to Medical Cannabis Act (HB 2562) has been described as the most tightly controlled medical cannabis program ever proposed in the United States, and the most patient-friendly. The Safe Access Act proposes that medical cannabis be produced by licensed farmers trained and supervised by the TN Department of Agriculture, processed by licensed processors supervised by the TN Board of Pharmacy and distributed by highly regulated dispensaries supervised by the TN Department of Health. Only Tennessee patients who are diagnosed with a dozen serious, debilitating diseases would be eligible for the program, and they would be enrolled if the patients and their physicians agree that medical cannabis might be helpful for them.

Even with the cost of Safe Access medical cannabis set at levels that are four to ten times less than patients now pay on the illicit market, the Safe Access program will generate more income for Tennessee state government than is currently occurring in any other state. The income from sales of medical cannabis through the Safe Access program would be divided as follows:

40% to the licensed farmers
20% to the licensed processors
20% to the licensed distributors
20% to the state

If, by the second year of the Safe Access program, 10,000 seriously ill Tennesseans enroll in the program, gross receipts may exceed $30 million, returning $6 million to the state that would fully fund the program and provide excess revenue for indigent health care and substance abuse treatment. For every 10,000 additional patients enrolled, another $30 million in income would be possible. (This does not count the fees paid by patients, processors and distributors to participate in the program.) Within five years, medical cannabis produced by Tennessee farmers for the Safe Access program is likely to rank among the top five highest grossing agricultural products produced in our state.

What is the Fiscal Impact of Studying the Implementation of the Safe Access Act? ($0)

As amended, the Safe Access Act calls for the TN Board of Pharmacy (TBOP) to oversee a study of the re-establishment of a medical cannabis program in our state to determine the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis and how best to implement this program. The TBOP has already agreed to conduct this study as part of their regular meeting schedule and to report back to the legislature by early next year. Other state agencies, including the TN Department of Health, TN Department of Agriculture and the TN Bureau of Investigation will be part of the study process, and input will be requested from health professionals, patients and county sheriffs to insure that all aspects of this ground-breaking program are fully considered before a decision to implement the program is made.

Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia now have medical cannabis programs and another fourteen states are now considering implementation of similar programs. None of them are implementing (or considering) medical cannabis programs that are as tightly controlled or as patient-friendly as the Safe Access program. None will generate as much income to support program implementation and produce excess revenue for the state as the Tennessee Safe Access program.

The time is NOW to study the re-establishment of Tennessees medical cannabis program.

Please vote for HB 2562 it will provide the information we need to move forward.
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yowzayowzayowza Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Excellent! What does processing entail? n/t
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Everything from harvesting mature plants to delivering ready-to-use buds to the dispensary/pharmacy
As you may know, that would be about a 4-8 week process, with quality control processes at every step of the way (starting with testing the cannabis for purity, potency and absence of molds).

Google Bedrocan (the Dutch medical marijuana contractor) and look at their slide show. It is quite informative.
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yowzayowzayowza Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Cool. Will do.
Thx for all your work!!!
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