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Despite differences, Bowling, Younglove agree on cannabis
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If you’re looking for a state senator who favors legalizing cannabis for medical use, you can’t lose in the election now in progress.

Janice Bowling, the incumbent Republican senator for Tennessee’s 16th District, and her Democratic challenger, McMinnville attorney Sheila Younglove, would vote in the General Assembly to repeal criminal penalties for the use of marijuana products prescribed for medicinal purposes.

While there are wide differences on other policy issues such a Medicaid expansion, both candidates agreed on legalizing medical cannabis when they answered questions Thursday at the weekly luncheon meeting of The Rotary Club of McMinnville.

“I realized that medical cannabis that has been legalized in 38 states needs to be legalized in Tennessee,” said Bowling, citing a widely quoted study from Israel on the medical benefits of the substance. “It is one of our only true weapons to get people off opioid addiction.

“This is medical cannabis, not recreational cannabis,” she stressed.

“I agree with Sen. Bowling,” Sheila Younglove, the Democratic nominee for the area Senate seat, declared when she took her turn in the questioning by Rotarians. “Tennessee needs to adopt medical cannabis as legal. It will help so many conditions, not just persons suffering from the effects of chemo and persons with glaucoma,” Younglove continued.

Bowling observed that legalization of medical marijuana would put its growing, production and distribution under state controls and regulations. For her part, Younglove predicted that decriminalization of medical-use cannabis will come sooner or later.   

“I think it’s inevitable,” Younglove said.

The senate incumbent and her challenger also found common ground in criticizing the current regime of student testing of K-12 students in Tennessee’s public schools.

Younglove referred to teacher complaints about the instructional time lost to frequent testing, with results that are of questionable value in steering the curriculum for student success.

The current TN Ready examination system “costs three times as much as the ACT suite of tests,” Bowling said. “TN Ready was a disaster,” she asserted, noting her votes in the legislature to suspend that testing program next spring.

Using much the same critical language, the Democratic senate hopeful told Rotarians that “TCAP is a relic and TN Ready was a disaster.”

The full content of the Noon Rotary forum for the Senate candidates will be broadcast this week on public radio 91.3 WCPI. The recorded program will air Tuesday at 5 p.m., Wednesday at 5 a.m., Thursday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 1 a.m.

Bowling, a resident of Coffee County, faces challenger Younglove in the general election that culminates in the last day of balloting Nov. 3. Two weeks of early voting started Wednesday, with more than 1,300 citizens casting their ballots in the first two days alone.