Marijuana laws have been in a tremendous state of flux throughout the nation, and they’re constantly changing. More than ever, marijuana is being accepted as a legitimate form of medicine that helps with a variety of difficult medical conditions.

Except in Tennessee. Like the federal government, Tennessee has yet to recognize marijuana’s usefulness as medicine. Nor have state authorities been willing to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Efforts to pass medical marijuana legislation died (again) in 2019, but they’ve recently been revived by State Representatives Bryan Terry and Steve Dickerson.

The Clinical Cannabis Authorization & Research Act would allow residents who obtain their medical marijuana card to legally buy and possess small amounts of the drug for their individual use. It would also allow licensed marijuana dispensaries to operate within the state. (Currently, residents of Tennessee can travel to Illinois and legally buy marijuana products while there — but they’re forbidden to bring those products back across the state line.)

Allowing patients who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer and other serious conditions access to marijuana is the only way to keep many of those people from turning to black-market drugs. Every transaction they make that way subjects them to the risk of prosecution if they’re caught.

Nobody should end up in prison because they’re trying to treat a difficult or painful medical condition. Without marijuana reforms, however, that’s likely to keep happening.

If you’re arrested for a marijuana crime, it’s wise to remember that Tennessee is notoriously unforgiving about drug crimes. A conviction could upend your entire life. Find out how a defense attorney can help.