SUBSCRIBE

Tennessee Lawmakers To Consider Cannabis Legalization Bill

Tennessee Lawmakers To Consider Cannabis Legalization Bill

A.J. Herrington

By A.J. Herrington

April 1, 2022

A bill that would legalize cannabis for adults and medical cannabis for children will be considered by Tennessee lawmakers this week as the legislation is taken up by a key legislative committee. Companion bills for the legislation, titled the Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act (SB2598/HB1968), were introduced by state Sen. Heidi Campbell and Rep. Bob Freeman earlier this year. The measure is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

“My constituents are regularly asking why are we dragging our feet on this,” Freeman told reporters.

If approved, the bill would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 60 grams of cannabis and as much as 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. The legislation also permits home cultivation of marijuana, with adults permitted to grow up to 12 cannabis plants under secure conditions. The measure would also permit parents or guardians to administer medicinal cannabis formulations to a minor authorized to use medical marijuana. 

Using marijuana would be prohibited in public places and in vehicles including automobiles, aircraft and watercraft. The legislation allows employers to maintain bans on marijuana use for employees and job applicants.

Bill Includes 15% Marijuana Tax

A fiscal note prepared for the legislation states that marijuana products would be assessed a tax of 15 percent on top of state and local sales and use taxes. Half of the added marijuana tax would be dedicated to funding law enforcement and administration through grant initiatives, while 20 percent would go to support the families of law enforcement officers injured or killed in the line of duty. Another 20 percent would go to the Tennessee state employee legacy pension fund, 5 percent would be spent on youth marijuana use prevention education and the remaining 5 percent is earmarked to cover the administrative costs of cannabis legalization.

The sponsors of the legislation say that legalizing cannabis will have economic and medical benefits for state residents.

“Let’s talk about the financial benefits this could have for our state,” said Freeman. “What could we fund differently? What could we fund better? We got the fiscal note back, and it’s hundreds of millions of dollars every year. States that have passed this before – it’s billions of dollars in additional state revenue.”

Campbell said that “80 percent of Tennesseans approve of some form of legalization, and continuing to criminalize cannabis at this point amounts to selective prosecution. While other states are enjoying the enormous tax and business revenues, our exposure to the complicated externalities just continue to increase.”

Additional Tennessee Cannabis Bills Pending

Tennessee lawmakers have also filed additional bills related to cannabis legalization for the current legislative session. SB2532/HB2641 from state Rep. Bryan Terry would establish a regulatory framework for medical marijuana. The measure was approved by a legislative subcommittee last week and referred to the Health Committee for further consideration.

The legislation would allow patients with specified qualifying medical conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, end-stage cancer, epilepsy, HIV or sickle cell disease to receive a recommendation to use medical marijuana from a licensed physician. The bill also establishes a medical marijuana commission to oversee the program.

However, the bill does not include provisions for the cultivation of cannabis or the manufacturing of medical marijuana products. Instead, patients would be required to use products from Arkansas, Delaware, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Utah or other states approved by the commission. The bill does not legalize herbal forms of cannabis including flowers and leaves and is instead limited to cannabis topicals, oral formulations, vapes and other manufactured products. 

Another bill introduced earlier this year by Sen. Sara Kyle and state Rep. Bruce Griffey would let Tennesse voters express their support for cannabis reform, although it would not legalize marijuana outright. Under SB1973/HB1634, county election commissions would be directed to include three non-binding questions regarding cannabis legalization on this year’s general election ballot. The bill also requires the Tennessee secretary of state to compile the results from the county elections, characterized as a “public policy opinion poll” in the summary of the legislation, and forward them to the members of the state legislature for review.

A.J. Herrington

About The Author

A.J. Herrington

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.

High There © 2022 Kaya Holding Corp. All rights reserved. Our content does not constitute a medical consultation. See a certified medical professional for diagnosis.