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Patients Fight for Medical Marijuana in Tennessee - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There is a major push to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee. Support is growing across the state, but it faces a big challenge on Capitol Hill.

Six weeks ago two year old Millie Mattison's parents moved from Nashville to Colorado. "And I think anyone with children would make the same decision that we would," says Millie's father Penn Mattison.

Millie suffers 300 to 400 seizures a day. After trying numerous medications with little success, the Mattisons now give Millie oil from marijuana plants. A traditional drug regimen that used to cost $60,000 a month now costs $60 a month. "And we have noticed about a 75-90% reduction in seizures," says Mattison.

There are thousands of people across Tennessee who can tell similar stories. "It's time for Tennessee to get smart. The facts are there, the data is there," says multiple sclerosis patient Kim Hipps.

Several patients came to Capitol Hill Wednesday to present the case for medical marijuana to the House health committee.
A recent MTSU poll found 75% of Tennesseans support medical marijuana, but it is not popular with many Republicans on Capitol Hill. Representative Sherry Jones of Nashville is pushing hard to win votes. "It's unfair that people have to suffer until they die," says TN Rep. Sherry Jones, (D) Nashville.

Opponents worry about opening the doors to legalization. Supporters point to tight controls and safe access. Penn Mattison's mind is made up just watching his daughter improve. "The numbers are out there, the statistics are out there, the data is there," says Penn Mattison.  

Opponents of the bill were also given the chance to speak on Wednesday, but nobody came forward.

Medical marijuana will get its first critical test next week.  The House health subcommittee will vote on this bill. Medical marijuana has been discussed on Tennessee's Capitol Hill for four years, but it has never received a full vote by the House or Senate.

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