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Blackburn says she’s ‘open’ to legalizing medical marijuana

Natalie Allison

Nashville Tennessean USA TODAY NETWORK - TENNESSEE

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn says she is “open” to legalizing medical marijuana, going a step beyond her Democratic opponent on the topic in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race.

While Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen dodged a question about medical marijuana during their first debate Tuesday, both addressed the issue later in follow-up questions from USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee.

“Marsha believes legalizing drugs would be a mistake but would be open to medical cannabis,” Blackburn press secretary Abbi Sigler said Tuesday.

Sigler also noted Blackburn’s belief that “drug addiction affects crime, deaths, is breaking families apart, and devastating our communities.”

Though Bredesen said he believed more research needed to be conducted on the effects of cannabis, he elaborated that he supported changing marijuana’s ranking on the federal drug schedule.

Bredesen described the legalization of medical marijuana as “fundamentally a state issue.”

“I think the right thing to do is to wait a little bit and find out what the implications of that are and how it’s working and what the problems are, and maybe consider that a little bit further down the line,” Bredesen said.

He said he believed the government could “intelligently” move marijuana from a Schedule I — considered the most serious classification of drugs — to a Schedule II in order to allow further research on its use and “see what the actual dangers of marijuana are.”

During a press gaggle at an August event on opioids several weeks ago, Bredesen said he was open to the prospect medical marijuana but made no mention of changing the drug’s schedule.

Brett Kelman contributed.

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