Cannabis sativa is cultivated for both its psychoactive properties (marijuana) and as a source of fiber (hemp). In Tennessee, hemp, defined as Cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3% THC, is legal to cultivate. However, marijuana, the same species containing more than 0.3% THC, remains illegal under Tennessee law.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation explains the complexities arising from the inconsistency in hemp and marijuana laws across the country. The Office of the Attorney General has also issued opinions on this subject.
Legislation such as the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act” has been introduced, aiming to establish a regulatory structure for the cultivation, processing, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products in Tennessee, to be administered by the Department of Agriculture.
Presently, it is a criminal offense to manufacture, deliver, or sell cannabis except as provided in the Tennessee Legend Drug and Controlled Substance Research Act of 1984. However, recent bills seek to decriminalize the sale and possession of medical marijuana by licensed establishments and create rules surrounding its distribution.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set out the rules and regulations for hemp, adhering to federal guidelines. The state’s hemp regulatory program has been in place since 2015, and Public Chapter 916 was passed in 2014 with subsequent amendments.