Many states throughout the US are legalizing marijuana in some form or another. In particular, medical marijuana is becoming increasingly common as policymakers come to recognize the dizzying array of benefits that this plant offers.
Most states have extensive lists of qualifying conditions, though it’s true that some are more “lenient” than others. In states like California, for example, it’s rumored that patients can get MMJ for something as routine as a headache!
In other states, like Tennessee, the medical marijuana program is barely a “program” at all. The Tennessee MMJ situation is indeed quite different from other US regions, and this makes things complicated for potential TN patients.
In this guide, we cover everything necessary for you to know about the Tennessee medical marijuana program.
What Is the Tennessee Medical Marijuana Program?
In 2015, TN Governor Bill Haslam signed Senate Bill 280; the first-ever ‘medical marijuana’ law in the Volunteer State. However, contrary to many other states, Tennessee made no provisions for patients to access raw cannabis, or even cannabis oils, edibles, or other products.
This restrictive law stated that patients with qualifying conditions could use CBD oil. When the law passed, CBD was a federally controlled substance, so in a way, it made sense. However, even with the passage of SB280 Tennessee was largely conservative when it came to allowing full-blown marijuana use for medical patients.
In 2016, House Bill 2144 tweaked the existing SB 280 law. It allowed patients to use and possess CBD oils containing up to 0.9% THC, though they had to have “a legal order or recommendation” (from a physician) to do so.
While H.B. 2144 undoubtedly improved upon the original Senate bill, Tennessee’s standing medical marijuana program is still very “sheltered” compared to other states with active MMJ programs. Even the list of qualifying conditions is minimal.
What Are the Tennessee MMJ Qualifying Conditions?
In Tennessee, only one condition qualifies for the low-THC CBD rule: epilepsy. More accurately, the bill allows those with a seizure disorder called Dravet Syndrome to use CBD oil.
Patients living with epilepsy can possess CBD oil safely and legally in Tennessee if they have a recommendation from a licensed physician. However, in the (admittedly rare) event that a doctor does recommend CBD oil, TN patients will need to purchase it outside the state, as there are no locations (that we’re aware of) inside the state where CBD oil products that contain 0.9% THC are available.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Tennessee
A lot of Tennessee residents go online and search the phrase “Tennessee medical marijuana program.” However, the program isn’t really a medical “marijuana” program at all. Rather, it’s a limited program that simply allows for the legal access of CBD/low-THC oil for select epilepsy patients.
For TN epilepsy patients that do qualify for the program, here are the steps you will need to take in order to gain access to legal CBD oil products:
Step 1: Find a Doctor
You need to locate a physician that will be willing to recommend CBD oil to you. Remember, you should only inquire if you have an epileptic or seizure condition. Many states have a directory of cannabis doctors, but Tennessee does not. If you’re at a loss, ask your GP.
Step 2: Inquire About CBD Oil
The hardest part is taking the plunge and starting a conversation. Come to the appointment prepared with some prior research on CBD for epilepsy, and be willing to ask — and answer — questions.
If the doctor agrees that low-THC CBD oil could be beneficial to you or your loved one, you may be able to proceed with getting a recommendation.
Step 3: Find the Right Low-THC CBD Oil
Now comes the tricky part. As we’ve mentioned, Tennessee has no options of physical locations for purchasing CBD oil with 0.9% THC — even with a doctor’s recommendation. This means you will have to obtain your meds from outside the state.
But here’s the issue: states that sell CBD oil with this specific level of THC are few and far between. You will either find hemp-based products with less 0.3% THC (these are available pretty much everywhere), or products that contain more than 0.9% THC. Hitting that sweet spot can prove incredibly difficult.
Current legislation and purchasing options make the Tennessee medical cannabis program largely pointless.
There’s also another problem. Shipping CBD oil with more than 0.3% THC between state lines is federally illegal. As a result, you risk legal intervention if attempting to do so.
As you can see, purchasing a CBD oil with 0.9% THC is incredibly difficult. Current legislation makes the whole thing pretty pointless, preventing patients from accessing the products that their doctors recommend.
The Cost of Medical Marijuana in Tennessee
As of yet, there are no established costs of MMJ in Tennessee. There are, of course, the costs of the doctor’s appointment. However, there is no firmly set out fee for the CBD oil recommendation.
A proposed bill will allow genuine medical marijuana in Tennessee, with a more extensive list of qualifying conditions. The proposal states that a medical marijuana card will cost $35, which is cheap compared to many other states. However, only time will tell whether or not this bill passes state legislation.
FAQ on Medical Marijuana in Tennessee
How Much Cannabis Oil Can I Buy and Possess?
Since marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, possession is a misdemeanor charge at the least. Some localities, however (like Nashville), have essentially decriminalized cannabis possession of less than half an ounce. As for medical patients, no limit has been set on the amount of low-THC CBD oil that you can possess at any one time.
Where Do I Get My Cannabis Oil?
You must purchase CBD oil from outside Tennessee for it to contain more than 0.3% THC. This, as we outlined above, can be next to impossible. Following current federal guidelines, however, hemp-derived CBD products containing 0.3% THC or less are widely available — even for online order and shipment to TN.
CBD products made from hemp can also be purchased in Tennessee from places like health stores, vape shops, and even some grocery stores. You will not need a doctor’s recommendation to purchase these types of hemp-derived products.
Can Minors Get an MMJ Card in Tennessee?
Yes. Minors may be able to access the low-THC CBD oil if it is recommended by a doctor. The applicationprocess is the same as for an adult. However, an adult will need to oversee the process.
Am I Allowed to Have a Caregiver?
A ‘caregiver’ is usually someone who buys and administers medical marijuana on behalf of a patient. Nothing specific exists in the Tennessee guidelines about caregivers. However, considering that minors can use CBD oil if it is recommended, it’s likely that a caregiver would be necessary. It’s unclear whether adults are allowed a caregiver in Tennessee.
Can People from Outside the State Use MMJ in Tennessee?
No. Some states allow visitors to continue using MMJ or to access the MMJ program while visiting. Tennessee has no such permissions in place. As a result, visiting MMJ patients will have to go without marijuana.
Will I Need a License if I Want to Grow Hemp, Transport Hemp, or Sell CBD in Tennessee?
Yes. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture runs an excellent hemp cultivation program that allows farmers to grow the crop. Standard regulations apply, so you must have a growing license. (There is a separate license available for processors and transporters).