GUEST POST *
As a growing number of states legalize marijuana, it’s only natural that residents of locations with prohibition feel left behind. Things become even more galling when a huge majority of voters favor legalization.
This is the situation with marijuana in Tennessee. Polls have found that over 80% of people want MMJ at the very least. Yet, the state’s lawmakers refuse to give the populous what they want.
If you live in TN, the closest you’ll get to cannabis is low-THC oil. Even though it offers a very limited option, the application process is akin to what you would expect in a state with a full medical marijuana program. This article looks into the situation surrounding weed in Tennessee and investigates the latest attempt at MMJ legislation.
Can I Legally Access Marijuana in Tennessee?
The short answer is ‘no,’ and the outline doesn’t look bright. Instead, you can only access cannabis oil with a maximum THC limit of 0.9%. Furthermore, you need written certification from a licensed physician. There is no further Tennessee medical marijuana card application process. Once the doctor approves you for the oil, you can buy medical marijuana.
However, even if you get the recommendation, accessing the oil legally is impossible!
There is nowhere within Tennessee that’s licensed to sell such products. Therefore, you need to get low-THC oil outside the state. Since it comes from marijuana, a federally illegal substance, transporting it across state lines is illegal. So, if you’re caught bringing it back to TN from another location, you could be charged with a federal crime.
What Are Tennessee’s Marijuana Laws?
Unfortunately, TN remains a strongly anti-cannabis state and has yet to even embrace decriminalization, let alone implement an MMJ program. Therefore, you face up to a year in prison if caught possessing any marijuana.
It is a felony to sell more than half an ounce of the substance, with a possible prison sentence of up to six years as the penalty. You face a similar punishment for growing a single plant.
Sadly, Tennessee’s strict ‘no marijuana’ policy has caused great harm within the state. In a per 100,000 residents sense, TN ranks #7 for the highest number of arrests for marijuana possession, according to a report by the ACLU. Between 2010 and 2018, the state’s arrest rate for this crime increased by over 20%.
Furthermore, the report found that African-Americans were over three times more likely to be arrested for weed possession than white residents.
Is There Hope on the Horizon?
The answer sadly seems to be ‘no.’ Apart from the low-THC oil law, no other legislation in place allows medical marijuana in Tennessee. The latest attempt, the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act, was rejected by the state’s lawmakers in early 2023.
A Republican senator sponsored the act, and it would have allowed residents with one of 30 qualifying medical conditions to access medical marijuana. The process would have involved getting a doctor’s recommendation before applying for an MMJ card.
Alas, the Tennessee Judiciary Committee went against the proposal by a vote of 6 to 3. Only one of the seven Republicans on the panel voted ‘yes.’
Although a second medical marijuana bill may appear before a subcommittee, it seems unlikely to fare any better. Thus, it is fair to say that TN will not have MMJ until 2024, at least, and even that seems far-fetched.
Final Thoughts on Medical Marijuana in Tennessee
If you want to see MMJ come to Tennessee, your hopes have been dashed repeatedly. The current lawmakers do not intend to legalize the substance for medical use. The most recent attempt to create a medical marijuana program met the same fate as all the others.
Thus, the only way to get a cannabis product in Tennessee is to receive a written certification and buy what you need out of state. In this scenario, you can only purchase products with a maximum THC content of 0.9%, and it is illegal to being them across state lines!
Since you face a federal charge for bringing low-THC oil into the state and cannabis crimes within Tennessee are so harshly punished, residents can only legally use CBD oil extracted from hemp. Such products can only have a maximum of 0.3% THC.