Over half of US states—28—have legalized medical marijuana. Legalization is supported by sixty percent of Americans, based on an October 2016 Gallup poll—including 42% of Republicans. A few of these cannabis supporters live in states that are traditional, and some are even in their own state’s legislature,currently supporting marijuana reform measures.
In Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah— traditionally Republican locales— marijuana reform bills are introduced for consideration in the coming sessions.“And, it’s worth noting that Republicans, who control state legislatures in most of these states, are behind the drive,” writes Maureen Meehan in High Times on Jan. 16.
This month in Missouri, a Republican representative and licensed doctor, Jim Neely, introduced a bill to give terminally ill patients access to medical marijuana. His daughter died of cancer in 2015, and Neely believes the drug would have helped relieve her pain. An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri last year didn’t make it on the November vote. However, Neely stated that the culture appears to be open now, noting, “I believe the timing is great.” He said on Jan. 13 that he’s confident the bill will make it to the House floor, thanks to his conservative bona fides and medical professional qualifications.
In Tennessee, two Republican legislators, Steve Dickerson and Jeremy Faison, a physician, introduced a measure to legalize therapeutic marijuana in December. They think it’s going to be an economic advantage to the state. The bill allows for 50 grow houses to be constructed, 15 of them designated for economically distressed zones.
The Tennessean reports that the marijuana measure is also part of a drive by lawmakers to undertake an opioid outbreak. More opioid prescriptions are handed out than there are individuals in Tennessee, and marijuana is viewed as a feasible, non-addictive alternative for pain alleviation.
Republican representative Ryan Williams co-sponsored a similar bill to legalize medical marijuana during the 2015 session, but it died in committee. He told The Tennessean there will likely be a “huge push” for medical marijuana during the 2017 legislative session to deal with the opioid outbreak.