By now, most people in America are aware of CBD. Short for cannabidiol, this compound is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, one of the active compounds found in cannabis plants. Predominantly, CBD comes from hemp.
Legislation surrounding CBD, hemp, and even marijuana is continually changing. As a result, it’s hard to keep up. Consumers often don’t know where they stand. Considering the myriad potential benefits of CBD, this is a shame.
Today, we are covering the current CBD legislation in Tennessee. Stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about cannabis, hemp, and CBD in the Volunteer State.
What Are the Marijuana Laws in Tennessee?
Often, understanding a state’s marijuana laws can provide a better understanding of where it stands with CBD. After all, CBD is sometimes stigmatized due to its existence in marijuana. Despite the fact that we now know it’s non-intoxicating, members of the public may confuse CBD oil and cannabis oil from time to time – and this includes lawmakers and politicians.
Possession and use of marijuana are illegal in Tennessee, at least recreationally. Sadly, this means that the Volunteer State is lagging behind others.
A majority of states are allowing medical cannabis nowadays, but even Tennessee’s so-called medical marijuana laws are highly restrictive.
Furthermore, Tennessee lacks a voter initiative process. Only elected officials may change state law, so politicians must believe strongly in cannabis legalization for it to pass.
Right now, the possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. It warrants up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Cultivation of plants is a felony, even for fewer than ten plants. This crime is punishable by up to six years in prison, with a minimum of one, and a $5000 fine.
You may not be surprised, sadly, to learn that black Americans are arrested at three times the rate of white marijuana users in Tennessee, even though the two groups use cannabis at a similar rate.
In 2016, it was reported that Tennessee spent $43 million on marijuana prosecutions in 2010. In these cases, the individuals were arrested for a half-ounce of marijuana or less. Clearly, illegality is an expensive process, but states in the south are often reluctant to go the whole nine yards with legalization.
Still, just last year, Nashville decriminalized possession of under an ounce. A change could be on the horizon.
What About Medical Marijuana?
It’s tricky to classify Tennessee’s medical marijuana laws as ‘medical marijuana.’ In actual fact, it’s more of a ‘medical CBD’ law.
In 2015, Governor Bill Haslam signed Senate Bill 280 into law. This bill legalized CBD oil for a select number of patients with specific conditions. Currently, the law is pretty much limited to people living with severe epilepsy, despite many other states permitting cannabis for a vast range of conditions.
Frustratingly, those with a doctor’s recommendation for CBD oil were not allowed to source it from within the state. All CBD oil had to be shipped in from outside Tennessee.
In 2016, the low-THC law was tweaked, allowing patients to use CBD oils with up to 0.9% THC. For reference, this percentage is higher than the typical THC allowances throughout the US. Technically, such oils are classified as ‘cannabis oils.’
Is CBD Oil Permitted in Tennessee?
Yes, CBD oil is allowed in Tennessee. However, the distinction between CBD oil and cannabis oil is slightly complicated.
Cannabis is a species of plant that encompasses both hemp and marijuana. In 2018, the federal government made a legal distinction between the two in the Farm Bill. Under the Hemp Farming Act, hemp is classed as any cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. More than this amount, and it is marijuana. By the way, marijuana remains federally illegal.
That said, the Hemp Farming Act made provisions for states to implement hemp farming laws. Since its admission into law, the majority of US states have created a hemp farming program. Typically, farmers must apply to the program and be approved before they can grow hemp; they are usually subject to checks to ensure the THC level stays below 0.3%.
CBD oil and cannabis oil follow a similar distinction. Products with less than 0.3% THC are classed as CBD, while those with more than this level are seen as marijuana.
Since marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, you must not possess or use a product with more than 0.3% THC. Of course, medical patients with the relevant documentation can have cannabis oil containing up to 0.9% THC.
Hemp-derived CBD is becoming increasingly accepted. Several pharmacies and health stores are selling CBD products now, especially in cities like Nashville. The state of Tennessee also allows individuals aged 18+ to purchase smokable hemp products, though these carry an excise tax of 6.6%.
Industrial Hemp in Tennessee
At this point, it’s essential to talk more about hemp. Even prior to the 2018 Farm Bill, Tennessee enacted House Bill 1164. This modified the state’s existing legislation to allow the growth of hemp.
Currently, Tennessee followed federal guidelines. As a result, hemp plants are those that contain less than 0.3% THC. To obtain a license, farmers must fill out a detailed form and submit the relevant licensing fees:
- Less than 5 acres: $250
- 5-20 acres: $300
- More than 20 acres: $350
Individuals will also need a separate license to process and move hemp. Expect to have the crop tested to ensure that the plants are within the legal limits. Growers should contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) 30 days prior to harvest for an inspection. They will also have to pay $150 for a sample test.
It’s clear that the Volunteer State is becoming more welcoming of industrial hemp; perhaps this has carried over for CBD.
Where Can I Buy CBD Products in Tennessee?
Those looking for low-THC (0.3%), hemp-derived CBD are now in luck. Several pharmacies and health stores are beginning to stock CBD, as well as head shops and vape stores. Products sold in the state are likely to contain less than 0.3% THC and abide by Tennessee guidelines.
However, consumers can also order online. The majority of brands adhere to federal guidelines. As long as the product at hand contains less than the THC limit, then it is possible to order from outside the state. Make sure to check this by consulting lab reports, which reputable brands publish on the site.
Final Thoughts on CBD in Tennessee: Summing up
Tennessee’s CBD situation is similar to many other states throughout the US. The industrial hemp program there is beginning to blossom, leading to a relaxed attitude surrounding CBD.
While marijuana remains illegal, CBD is permitted as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. Those with a medical card may also possess oil with up to 0.9% THC.
Now that several surrounding states have implemented compassionate care acts, Tennessee may take a U-turn and do the same in the future. All we can say is: Watch this space.