KNOXVILLE - An East Tennessee lawmaker is in Colorado this week on a medical marijuana fact-finding trip.
In May 2015, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that made it legal to use cannabis oil to treat certain medical problems.
That was a big step forward for medical marijuana supporters, but there’s a push to move even further.
After hearing from families that the THC levels in cannabis were not enough, State Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby decided to do some research.
In a self-funded trip to Colorado he’s met with families who have left their hometowns to be there, veterans suffering from PTSD, doctors, farmers and toured places where the medical marijuana is grown.
"I've learned so much, it’s been amazing, the benefit this plant has done for these people,” Faison told WBIR 10News in a Facetime interview.
While out west, he’s met with families, talked with doctors and farms all while liveblogging the entire journey on his Facebook page.
His visit stemmed from a Greene County girl, Josie Mathes. Before the cannabis oil bill her family planned to move to Colorado, after it passed they stayed. But Josie’s condition needs more.
Faison has also put much emphasis of this trip on veterans fighting PTSD.
“Realizing the medicines the FDA's approved and given them for many aren't working,” said Faison. “When I see these problems, I'm thinking there has got to be more, but let’s do some research.”
To learn the science behind medical marijuana and its positive benefits, he visited Haleigh’s Hope, a botanical oil made in Boulder.
Faison says legalized medical marijuana would be extremely affordable for patients, plus an economic boost for East Tennessee farmers.
“Farmers will be able to benefit greatly, and if our farmers benefit, everyone benefits,” said Faison.
Critics fear that marijuana could bring the same problems as prescription drugs and fall into abusive hands.
"Just because someone might pervert the use of this, doesn’t make me scared to give it to someone who could use it. I see the benefits greatly outweigh the negative,” said Faison.
When the legislature returns in January, Faison plans to share his new knowledge and try once again to bring change to Tennessee.
"I definitely want to push for a medical marijuana bill in Tennessee, it’s been pushed for years and never got off square one,” said Faison.
Faison admits his thoughts about the plant have changed drastically.
"I thought marijuana use was basically for potheads and over the last few years I have evolved, and this is what I've come to believe, this plant is really God’s hope,” said Faison.
Faison said he is not in favor of recreational marijuana use.
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