The state of Tennessee is one step closer to legalizing medical cannabis after the legislature sent a limited medical cannabis bill to the governor’s desk. The legislation would expand Tennessee’s limited medical cannabis industry and create a commission tasked with analyzing broader medical cannabis reform. Although the bill is a compromise between cannabis reform advocates and those against cannabis reform, the advocates aren’t happy that a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill failed to pass.
The limited compromise bill would expand the list of qualifying conditions from only intractable epilepsy to include cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, sickle cell disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis. Patients with the qualifying conditions would be allowed to possess CBD oil that contains a maximum of 0.9% THC. They will be required to have proof of their medical condition as well as a recommendation from a licensed doctor to possess cannabis.
However, since the limited compromise bill doesn’t legalize the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis in the state, qualifying medical marijuana patients will have to source it from neighboring states with legal medical cannabis markets or the black market. The bill only ensures that patients who meet the strict conditions of qualifying for medical marijuana have certain legal protections.
The nine-member commission established by the bill would be charged with studying state and federal cannabis laws and helping Tennessee lawmakers prepare legislation to legalize medical cannabis in the state. However, everything the committee learns will only be implemented in the state’s own medical marijuana space if Congress federally legalizes cannabis. According to language in the bill, it does not authorize a medical cannabis program in Tennessee. Until the federal government stops classifying cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance, the state shall not authorize the licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries.
The bill passed the Senate with a 19 to 12 vote before the House unanimously passed it in a 74 to17 vote. An amendment that would have removed the Senate addition requiring cannabis to be federally legalized before the state can launch its medical cannabis market was quashed in the House right before the bill was passed.
In the meantime, the nine-member committee will be busy studying other state and federal medical cannabis legislations specifically looking at registration, patient qualification, roles of medical professionals and pharmacists, registration of cannabis businesses and testing protocols, among other factors.
The restrictive nature of the cannabis law passed in Tennessee highlights how narrow the legal space within which marijuana sector players, such as Grapefruit USA Inc. (OTCQB: GPFT), have to live within in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal in some form, especially with the added complication of federal law that prohibits marijuana.
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