The Cannabis sativa plant has been cultivated for both its psychoactive properties, known as marijuana, and as a source of fiber, referred to as hemp. Both marijuana and hemp are cultivars of the same plant – Cannabis sativa. In Tennessee, the cultivation of hemp is legal, with hemp being defined as Cannabis sativa containing less than 0.3% THC. On the other hand, marijuana, or Cannabis sativa containing greater than 0.3% THC, remains illegal in the state.
The Tennessee General Assembly has introduced legislation, known as the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act,” which aims to establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation, processing, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products. This program would be administered by the Department of Agriculture. However, this bill does not modify the present law, under which the manufacture, delivery, or sale of cannabis (marijuana) is a criminal offense, except as provided in the Tennessee Legend Drug and Controlled Substance Research Act of 1984. This bill seeks to decriminalize the sale and possession of medical marijuana by a licensed medical cannabis establishment and establishes rules for its governance.
As of now, Tennessee has a hemp regulatory program in place since 2015, which is a combination of statutes, rules, protocols, and SOPs. This program was authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly through Public Chapter 916 in 2014, with amendments in 2019 by Public Chapter 87. The Department of Agriculture has been tasked with promulgating rules to implement this program.
When it comes to food safety, all food and food ingredients sold in Tennessee or used as ingredients in food products produced in the state must originate from an approved source. This means that they must be inspected and permitted by the appropriate regulatory authority. Hemp, as an ingredient, falls under these regulations.
The Medical Cannabis Commission in Tennessee serves as a resource for the study of laws regarding medical cannabis, preparing legislation to establish an effective patient-focused medical cannabis program in the state, pending the rescheduling or descheduling of marijuana from Schedule I of controlled substances.
For further information, please refer to the following resources:
- Hemp & Marijuana – Tennessee State Government
- Tennessee General Assembly Legislation
- Recommendations of the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission
- STATE OF TENNESSEE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
- Hemp Rules 11.2021 – Tennessee State Government
- Hemp Rules and Regulations – Tennessee State Government
- Hemp and Food Safety – Tennessee State Government