The Status of Cannabis Legalization in TN
In recent Tennessee cannabis news, House Bill 309 by Rep. Jesse Chism was heard by state legislators. The bill seeks to decriminalize the possession of a personal-use quantity of marijuana by making these possessions a civil violation punishable by a $25 or community service. The bill defines “personal-use quantity” as one (1) ounce (28.35 grams) or less of cannabis, five grams (5 g.) or less of cannabis concentrates, and infused products containing one thousand milligrams (1,000 mg.) or less of delta-9 THC.
What is one of the most limited U.S. medical cannabis programs in Tennessee could change soon. A March 2020 news report detailed how the Volunteer State is considering legalizing oils, tinctures, and lotions, much more than patients are offered now. Tennessean.com reports that Rep. Bryan Terry and Sen. Steve Dickerson, both doctors, proposed the pending legislation that would completely revamp the strictly limited statewide program.
“I don’t believe our legislators want patients to be in jail. They want there to be a safe manner with which they can get these medicines,” Terry told the statewide news source. “And, outside the General Assembly is the public, and the public overwhelmingly supports using these chemicals in a medical fashion.”
If passed, the law would permit residents who suffer from a small list of conditions, including cancer, PTSD, and HIV/AIDS. Like so many U.S. regions, the Tennessee legislation to expand the medicinal cannabis program in the 2020 General Election, but halted due to COVID-19. Unable to circulate petitions due to quarantine postponed the possible vote.
The Memphis Flyer reported in March 2020 how the virus delayed the legislation this year, but how a glitch in the original bill also stopped movement in 2018. “But there was a huge, last-minute amendment that created a huge, last-minute caveat,” reports the Memphis Flyer. “The bill would only be passed when the federal government downgraded cannabis from a Schedule I drug (alongside LSD and heroin) to Schedule II (alongside cocaine and meth).”
With the amendment removed and COVID-19 slowing down, 2021 maybe the year Tennessee will make the needed move for the thousands of citizens who suffer from disorders alleviated by medical cannabis.
Qualifying for the Current Program
Tennessee’s limited medical cannabis program only allows state residents who have an uncontrolled seizure disorder, including epilepsy, are registered in an authorized clinical research study, are under the care of a certified medical doctor, hospital. If a patient meets all qualifications, they are prescribed cannabis oil types containing no more than 9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
There are no caregiver laws in Tennessee. Only a patient can possess and administer low-level THC cannabidiol that they are prescribed by a neurologist for a diagnosed severe seizure disorder.
Possession and Cultivation Limits
A state-registered patient can only possess as much low-level THC oil as prescribed to them by a certified neurologist. Having any other form of cannabis is illegal and will result in criminal charges against the patient. There is no cultivation in Tennessee. Any patient found growing or manufacturing any cannabis will be found guilty of a criminal offense.
Recommending Cannabis in Tennessee
In order to recommend cannabis in Tennessee, physicians need to be associated with clinical research on intractable seizure therapy undertaken through a medical college at the University. Recommended clinicians must submit a report on the results of all cannabis research, including the number of patients involved, the study parameters, and the outcomes of each participant, to the Commissioner of Health and Tennessee’s General Assembly by January 2018.
Veriheal will be among the first services helping patients to become approved for medical cannabis use when a viable program ultimately opens.