Lawmakers in Tennessee’s House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would legalize the use of medicinal cannabis in the state. The measure, House Bill 637, would allow patients with one or more qualifying medical conditions to use medical marijuana and establish a regulatory framework for the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis products.
The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. Ron Travis and Rep. Jason Hodges, a Democrat. HB 637 is a companion bill to a similar measure reintroduced in the Tennessee Senate by Republican Sen. Janice Bowling earlier this year. She also introduced the bill during the previous legislative session but it failed to get enough support from fellow lawmakers.
The Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act
HB 637 which is also known as the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act, would allow patients with one or more serious medical conditions to use medical marijuana. Patients would be required to obtain a doctor’s approval or provide documentation of a diagnosis for a qualifying medical condition.
The medical conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana use under the bill include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Muscular sclerosis
- Opioid addiction
- Renal failure
- Severe nausea or chronic pain
- Any medical condition producing cachexia
- Persistent muscle spasm, or seizures
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome
- Chronic radiculopathy
- Severe psoriasis
- Post-laminectomy syndrome
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Complex pain syndrome, including trigeminal neuralgia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease
- End-of-life pain management or palliative care
- Terminal conditions
- The following conditions if the patient is younger than 18 years of age: cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis; osteogenesis imperfecta; and muscular dystrophy.
Patients would also be required to obtain a medical marijuana identification card from the state in order to possess and use medicinal cannabis. Medical cannabis cards would be good for two years with an option for one renewal after expiration.
The measure would also create a state Medical Cannabis Commission that would be tasked with regulating the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of medical marijuana products. A state medical cannabis fund would be created to fund the administration of the program.
Taxes would be assessed on the retail sale of medical marijuana products, with 45% of revenue collected going to the medical cannabis fund to cover regulatory expenses. A quarter of the tax raised would go to the state Department of Agriculture to fund programs and grants from the agency. Another 20% of tax revenue would go to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for rural and community development programs, with the final 10% funding opioid and methamphetamine drug enforcement operations by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Lawmakers are also considering other bills that would make Tennessee the 34th state to permit some form of medical marijuana. Last week, the House House Facilities, Licensure and Regulations Committee approved a bill on Tuesday that would legalize cannabis oils, lotions, and pills while continuing the prohibition of smokable marijuana, vapes, and edibles. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee delayed a decision on a similar measure the following day.