Tennessee’s stance on cannabis, both hemp and marijuana, reflects a complex and evolving legal landscape. Both cultivars, marijuana and hemp, originate from the same plant species – Cannabis sativa. However, the legal distinction in Tennessee hinges on the THC content. Hemp, defined as Cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3% THC, is legalized for cultivation in the state, while marijuana, containing more than 0.3% THC, remains illegal.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other crime labs have historically performed analyses to differentiate between these two forms. This distinction is crucial given the state’s regulatory approach towards these substances.
In a significant legislative move, the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act” was introduced, aiming to establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation, processing, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products. This act proposes to place these activities under the administration of the Department of Agriculture, signaling a potential shift in the state’s policy on marijuana.
Despite marijuana being classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), over thirty states, including the District of Columbia and territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have implemented medical marijuana programs as of March 10, 2020. This indicates a growing national trend towards the acceptance and regulation of medical marijuana, a trend that Tennessee might be considering joining.
The Tennessee General Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 118 / House Bill 490 in May 2021 further illustrates this potential shift. This legislation, related to the Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use, shows the state’s engagement in discussions around medical cannabis. As of October 29, 2021, the medical cannabis program had over 631,660 qualified patients, highlighting the significant public interest in this area.
Moreover, a bill requiring county election commissions to include a public policy opinion poll on the legalization of marijuana in the November 2022 ballot was also proposed. This bill reflects an increasing interest in gauging public opinion on this contentious issue, especially regarding the legalization of medical marijuana.
Tennessee’s hemp regulatory program, in place since 2015, combines statutes, rules, protocols, and SOPs. This program was established following the passage of Public Chapter 916 in 2014, with amendments in 2019 by Public Chapter 87. These legislative actions authorized the Department of Agriculture to implement rules for the hemp program, reflecting the state’s evolving approach towards Cannabis sativa cultivation.
For more information on Tennessee’s policies regarding hemp and marijuana, resources are available at the Tennessee State Government website (Tennessee State Government – Hemp & Marijuana), including detailed hemp rules and regulations (Hemp Rules and Regulations – Tennessee State Government).