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As one of 13 states which not yet legalized medical cannabis Tennessee is a minority, even by Southern standards. Actually, five of the neighboring states to Tennessee have legalized marijuana for either medical (Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri and Georgia) or adult use (Virginia) with Mississippi appearing to be at the edge of legalizing medical cannabis.
In Tennessee, cannabis is illegal for almost every use apart from limited medical purposes. The legalization of CBD oil took place in May 2015 when Senate Bill 280 was signed into law by Tennessee governor Bill Haslam though he had earlier been opposed. Under this bill CBD oil can be used to treat limited conditions that are severe including epilepsy. Because this bill does not provide for legal sale, patients are required to purchase CBD oil from without the state and possession that is not accompanied by proof of legal acquisition is considered to be a misdemeanor.
Some municipals within Tennessee have attempted to decriminalized cannabis with both Nashville and Memphis achieving this at least in good part. Memphis reduced the penalty for possessing marijuana in small amounts to a fine of $50 while Nashville’s DA dropped all charges relating to the possession of less than half an ounce (14g) of marijuana.
Enforcing marijuana offenses in the state of Tennessee is an expensive affair. The Daily Helmsman in 201 noted that Tennessee had spent $43 million in year 2010 in the prosecution of 42% of the marijuana related arrests for quantities of 1⁄2 ounce (14 g) or less.
Does Tennessee Have a Medical Marijuana Program?
It might surprise you to learn that technically, Tennessee does have a medical cannabis program put in place. The legislation providing for this took effect in May 2021 allowing individuals suffering from certain qualifying conditions under a physician’s recommendation the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil which contains up to 0.9% THC. This is a whopping 3 times higher THC content than the federal description of hemp which is a THC content of 0.3. The 0.3-0.9% THC content allowed in Tennessee’s CBD oil thus qualifies as “marijuana” which is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Practically, Tennessee’s cannabis program is way too limited to cause a ripple in the status quo. The main challenge of this program is prohibiting production of CBD oil in the state requiring qualifying Tennessee patients to procure their rations outside the state coupled with only allowing cannabis that contains 0.9 percent only makes cannabis a “medical cannabis program” only in name.
Another bill to legalize medical cannabis was filed by representatives Iris Rudder and Janice Bowling in March 3, 2021 for the treatment of severe medical conditions. It however dies shortly thereafter in the state senate and did not get to see the light of day.
Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.
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