Tennessee medical marijuana bills are dead until 2020

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Tennessee lawmakers have abruptly delayed all efforts to legalize medical marijuana until next year, abandoning several bills moments before the controversial topic was expected to be debated for the first time.

Sen. Steve Dickerson, a doctor who is one of the biggest advocates in the Tennessee legislature for medical marijuana, said during a Senate hearing Wednesday he was regrettably delaying all bills involving cannabis until 2020. The House also had rolled the bills until next year, Dickerson said.

Less than an hour before that hearing, Dickerson had intended to amend an existing bill to introduce a detailed proposal to legalize and regulate medical marijuana throughout Tennessee.

But the senator said he was convinced the bill would fail shortly before the hearing began, and decided it was better to delay the proposal than watch it fail in committee.

“You can run a bill and have it defeated, or you can keep it alive,” Dickerson told the USA TODAY Network – Tennessee. “And practically speaking, we decided to keep it alive and not have a defeat for perception more than anything.” [Read more at Columbia Daily Herald]