Jeremy’s Story

I am a 36 year old father of two teenage daughters, ages 15 and 17 . I am the former owner of a small trucking company that hauled logs and lumber, and I support medical cannabis in Tennessee.

In late 2014 my health began to decline, it was at that point that I began taking prescription pain killers daily. The cartilage in my left ankle was wearing away and it was becoming increasingly more painful. The doctors said that I was too young for an ankle replacement because it only lasts for ten to fifteen years on average, so at this point it would likely have to be done again in the future. So, I began my journey on pain killers to get through every day life and provide for my family.

My kids mother, whom I had been divorced from for ten years had a severe addiction to prescription pain killers, but I was unaware of it until one night my young daughters called me at my house crying and upset. Their exact words were “Daddy please come over here, something is wrong with momma, she won’t talk to us”, so I left right then and headed there. Before I got there, my daughters said “Daddy please hurry, I think momma is dying”. I kept them on the phone until I got there, and then when I found their mother high and passed out from opiates, I called the police and she was arrested.

To make a long story short, in may of 2015, my daughters were spending the night with their mom as ordered by the court, and they found her dead from a drug overdose at 3 am when they got up to use the bathroom. Around this time is when I became epileptic, and my immune system began attacking my joints. To this day, no one knows why, but I am now in a wheelchair most of the time.

If I do stand up and take a few steps, I have to use crutches as the cartilage in my left ankle has completely deteriorated and now the bones are wearing each other out. I have been diagnosed with degenerative bone disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and inflammatory arthritis.
I only take antinflammatories and low dose steroids, nothing for pain, not even Tylenol.

I went to a methadone clinic for about a year and a half to deal with an opioid addiction I have myself, due to pain management with them.

I feel as though I would benefit greatly from the use of medicinal cannabis. I think it would be a natural alternative to something that has already brought so much heartache and sorrow to my family. I can’t work and have been trying to get disability started for over a year now, but maybe if medical cannabis were available, I could use some form of it for pain relief and be able to work.

Jeff Sessions Rescinds Obama-Era Enforcement Guidance: Five Observations

We were very fortunate to have Professor Robert Mikos participate in the Medical Cannabis Task Force hearing in October. Professor Mikos is on the faculty of Vanderbilt Law School and is a leading expert on the subject of cannabis law. Here is his informative analysis of the recent developments at the Federal level: https://goo.gl/P5mZHW

TN General Assembly hearing on House bill to limit medical cannabis exclusively to pharmaceuticals

On March 21, the House Health Committee of the TN General held a hearing in connection with Rep. Sabi Kumar’s bill HJR 65. This bill attempts to limit medical cannabis to pharmaceuticals with FDA approval. If passed, there would be no medical cannabis allowed in TN which is based on whole plants. More than half the states in the US have some form of legal cannabis based on whole plants.

Click here to watch the proceedings which start 9 minutes into the video. It is educational to see the discussion, particularly the testimony of those in opposition.

Anticipation

Now that the election is over, there is great anticipation for the upcoming TN General Assembly session in mid-January. We can say for sure that there will be a medical cannabis bill before both houses of the legislature.

Tennessee General Assembly could not have a stronger medical cannabis advocate than Rep. Jeremy Faison. Here is a TV interview based on his fact-finding trip to Colorado. There he met with law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and Tennesseans who re-located to CO for safe, legal access to medical cannabis.  All of this has deeply strengthened his belief in the value of medical cannabis. You won’t want to miss this TV interview with Rep. Faison upon his return to TN from that trip https://goo.gl/UmXy9n .

faison

Stay tuned for more updates as we head into the 2017 legislative session…

Radio interview with Allison Watson and Liz Graves

Joe Padula is a radio host on news talk radio WJZM – AM in Clarksville, TN. He is an army veteran, and very supportive of changing the cannabis laws, particularly as they relate to making medical marijuana available to veterans with PTSD. Recently, Allison Barker Watson and Liz Graves were invited to appear on The Joe Padula Show to discuss the issues involving cannabis law in Tennessee and the nation.

Both women bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the conversation. Allison, as a former TN Assistant District Attorney, and Liz, who just moved to Knoxville from Boulder, Colorado, where she served for 4 years as the top administrator for marijuana licensing in Boulder County.

Click here to listen to the lively conversation!

Liz Graves photo

 

Mark your calendar for February 18!

Tennessee Medical Cannabis Symposium – Free and Open to the Public

On Thursday, February 18, Vanderbilt University Law School will host the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Symposium, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Research Institute.

The symposium runs from 7 – 9 pm. It is free and open to the public. There is a reception before the event, with hors d’oeuvres, wine, and beer, from 6 – 7 pm. Tickets for the reception are $20 to help offset event costs.

Featured speakers are:
* State Senator Steve Dickerson, MD, sponsor of the medical cannabis bill which is currently before the Senate Health and Welfare committee
* Allison Watson, former Tennessee Assistant District Attorney
* John Hudak, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, cannabis law expert
* Dr. Kimberly Vera, Assistant Professor Vanderbilt School of Medicine

All details are here. Please join us for this unique and informative event.

To a brighter future for Tennessee,
Tennesseans United

Tennessee Medical Cannabis Bill – Committee Hearing 12/1/2015

Tennessee Senate Bill 1248, sponsored by Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville, anesthesiologist), was the recent subject of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Summer Study on December 1, 2015.  This bill would legalize medical cannabis for limited debilitating medical conditions.  The Committee heard testimony from many opponents and supporters of the bill.  The following is a video of the full hearing.  Testimony from supporters Meg Sanders (CEO – Mindful), Dr. Kim Vera (Pediatric Cardiologist – VUMC), Allison Barker Watson (former Assistant District Attorney – 13th Judicial District), and Professor Robert Mikos (Vanderbilt School of Law) begins at 1:33:20.

Senate Health and Welfare Committee Summer Study, SB1248, 12/1/2015

Momentum Builds

An important sign of the changing times: http://goo.gl/su5I9m

Tennessee law enforcement leaders call for end to mass incarceration

Oct. 21, 2015

NASHVILLE — The police chiefs of Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga are among 130 top law enforcement officials from across the nation calling for an end to “mass incarceration” in the United States while maintaining public safety.

The officials have formed a new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, whose top leaders announced the group’s policy agenda — “to push reforms to reduce incarceration and strengthen public safety — Wednesday in Washington. Its top leaders will meet Thursday at the White House with President Barack Obama, who has called for reduced prison sentences and alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong, Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson and Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher are listed as members of the organization, which includes individuals who lead or have led law enforcement agencies or associations and current and former prosecutors at the local, state and federal levels of government. The membership list also includes Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner and Nashville lawyer Hal Hardin, who was the U.S. attorney for Middle Tennessee who led the investigations and prosecution of top state officials in the 1970s.

The group’s formation and goals comes at a time when Tennessee officials are considering longer prison stays for more serious offenders and for people convicted multiple times for domestic violence, drug trafficking and home burglary.

A 27-member Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism, appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam last year to examine whether the sentencing system in place since 1989 is adequate today, completed its work in August and delivered a set of recommendations to the governor. Haslam is considering what he wants to present to the state legislature in January.

The state panel recommended “truth in sentencing” for felony convicts, requiring a clear minimum period of incarceration be known to defendants and victims at sentencing.

Currently, convicts are given a release-eligibility date that, for typical offenders, is at least 30 percent of the sentence, but good-behavior credits earned in prison and other early-release provisions can shave more time off that. And the task force recommended making a third or subsequent conviction of domestic violence assault a felony rather than the misdemeanor it currently is.

The state panel was composed of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, public defenders, state legislators, local officials and others in the criminal justice system, including Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham and state Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

Gibbons, who co-chaired the task force, said in August that in addition to “truth in sentencing,” there was a consensus among members “that we need to make smart use of our prisons by using them for the more serious offenders, we need to be smart in coming up with effective alternatives for the less serious offenders and we really need to do a better job in reducing the number of repeat offenders.”

State Rep. John Deberry (D-Memphis) said in August that the group realized “we can’t just continue to lock up as many people as we’re doing and basically throwing away the key and eating up as many tax dollars as we have. I think everybody entered the task force with a realistic attitude that we’ve got to make some changes.

“I just hope that the folks who can be rehabilitated — people who can learn, people who can be cleaned up after their addiction, folks who can go back to their families and become productive citizens — I hope we move every obstacle to doing that because we make every felony a life sentence and that’s something we’ve got to change.”

Heads of the nation’s largest police departments are leaders of the new national group of law enforcement officials calling for reforms, including New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Houston Police chief Charles McClelland and Washington D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier.

“Good crime control policy does not involve arresting and imprisoning masses of people. It involves arresting and imprisoning the right people. Arresting and imprisoning low-level offenders prevents us from focusing resources on violent crime,” Chicago’s McCarthy said. “While some may find it counterintuitive, we know that we can reduce crime and reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration at the same time.”

The group said its members will work with policymakers to pursue reforms around four policy priorities:

· Increasing alternatives to arrest and prosecution, especially mental health and drug treatment. Policies within police departments and prosecutor offices should divert people with mental health and drug addiction issues away from arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment and instead into proper treatment.

· Reducing unnecessary severity of criminal laws by reclassifying some felonies to misdemeanors or removing criminal sanctions where appropriate.

· Reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum laws that require overly harsh, arbitrary sentences for crimes.

· Strengthening ties between law enforcement and communities by promoting strategies that keep the public safe, improve community relations, and increase community engagement.

from Memphis’ COMMERCIAL APPEAL newspaper