East Tennesseans Debate Medical Marijuana

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Some cancer patients say marijuana relieves nausea and other side effects from chemotherapy. And some states have passed legislation removing the state penalties for marijuana use for medical purposes.

So, where do Tennesseans stand on the issue?

Several recent medical studies suggest marijuana cigarettes could help cancer and aids patients control nausea and pain.

And since 1996, 12 states have passed measures supporting medical marijuana use.

"What they're trying to do is get it under limited circumstances permitted, I believe, those being glaucoma, or relief from glaucoma, and folks that are on chemotherapy," State Senator Tim Burchett says he would oppose any bill that would legalize marijuana for any use, medical or otherwise.

There's still very little understanding of how the drug works.

And, in fact, internal medicine Doctor Michael Green cautions smoking marijuana poses its own health hazards. "When you boil that down, you're taking some leaves of a plant, setting them on fire, then sucking the smoke from that fire down your lungs. Along with that, you're getting all sorts of carcinogens."

Many lawmakers and doctors believe marijuana's future as a drug does not involve smoking.

Its best-known substance, THC, is already legally available as an oral prescription drug called Marinol.

"There's some really good medicines out there for pain and for nausea, which is something that medical marijuana has been touted as helpful for," says Dr. Green.

"Can 100 percent, unequivocally be duplicated in a laboratory and can be taken in pill form. So there really, I don't see any real reasons for it, other than the fact that some of these folks want to smoke marijuana," adds Senator Burchett.

While it remains a topic of discussion, there is currently no bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana before the Tennessee legislature.

How do you feel about legalized marijuana for medical purposes? Leave you thoughts in the comment section below.

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