Tenn. gubernatorial candidate looks to legalize medical marijuana

Published: Aug. 29, 2017 at 2:10 PM EDT
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It's a hot topic in the state: whether or not to legalize medical marijuana. Beth Harwell, the Tennessee Speaker of the House and a Republican candidate for governor, said she supports legalizing medical marijuana.

Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis went to Nashville to talk to her about what made her change her mind.

Beth Harwell has a sister who lives in Colorado and injured her back doing yoga.

"She was prescribed opioids," said Harwell. "She would need to be on them for 12 weeks. She was in a body brace. She really realized after a couple weeks of action she would be addicted if she didn't take an alternative course of action."

So her sister, who is very health conscious and doesn't do any drugs, asked her husband to go to the dispensarie and get her some medical marijuana.

"She didn't smoke it," Harwell explained. "Just put a little on her tongue and mixed it with coconut oil. It really got her through some tough days so she's not on any medicine right now. So it is an alternative for some folks."

Speaker Harwell said her sister used it for only three or four days, and is now living pain-free thanks to the controversial plant. Medical marijuana isn't FDA approved yet, so she said they'd have to put strict restrictions in place to make sure it's processed correctly.

Harwell said, "This will take a while to educate folks. Then, we will get the medical community involved to make sure we're doing the right thing by the people in Tennessee."

After the bill died last session, Speaker Harwell ordered a task force to look into the effects of medical marijuana. Representative Jeremy Faison has said he plans on re-introducing the bill again next year.

Harwell said that while she supports legalizing medical marijuana, she does not support legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Local 8 News reached out to Randy Boyd, who is also running for governor as a Republican. He, like Harwell, is against recreational marijuana. He said that any potential medical uses must be fully tested and go through full FDA approval, just like any other medicine would.