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Tennessee Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill—But There’s A Catch

Tennessee’s state senate wants to implement medical marijuana…but only if the plant is reclassified federally.

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Teri Verbickis/ Shutterstock

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee cleared a major hurdle on Wednesday, passing out of a state Senate committee. But that step forward may be accompanied by a step backwards, as the panel tacked on an amendment to the legislation that would almost certainly lead to a significant delay of its implementation .

In what was described as a “last-minute amendment” by local television station WTVF, the bill would only take effect if marijuana were reclassified on the federal level, which still bans cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The amendment, according to The Tennessean, was added by Republican state Sen. Bo Watson. The bill will now move to the Senate Government Operations Committee for debate.

A separate medical cannabis measure was introduced in the state House of Representatives last week. That bill, known as the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act, would open the door for patients to with at least one qualifying medical condition to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana. The qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy

HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, muscular sclerosis, opioid addiction, renal failure, severe nausea or chronic pain, among several others. 

That legislation would also establish a so-called Medical Cannabis Commission, which would be empowered to regulate the the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of medical marijuana products. It would also create a state medical marijuana fund to subsidize the program. 

“The general assembly intends to establish a functional framework within which to authorize access to medical cannabis on a regulated basis for patients with qualifying medical conditions and which licenses and regulates the processes for cultivation, production, distribution, transport, selling, and acquiring cannabis for medical use and research,” the bill reads. “The broad purpose of the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act is to increase low-cost public health options, alleviate suffering, develop agricultural business, incentivize research of THC benefits, and expeditiously license and track medical cannabis from cultivation to point of sale within the boundaries of this state.”

The bill also noted that more than two-thirds of the country already has “access to medical cannabis through other state programs,” and that “that peer-reviewed medical studies have established a statistical correlation between reduced opioid-use overdoses in states with medical cannabis programs.”

Unlike the bill offered up in the state Senate, the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act makes no mention of the federal government.

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Written By

High Times Writer.



  1. Avatar

    John Gunnels

    March 26, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    My name is John Gunnels of Dixon Springs, Tn. and I live in pain from back surgeries and nerve damage in my neck. I implore you to take all action to make it legal here in Tennessee. There are many people here that need this bill to be passed. With your help you can help with the law makers which would govern the legalization growing and depestories of this needed product. Thank you for your time.

    John Gunnels

    • Avatar

      Denise Espafron

      June 29, 2020 at 11:43 am

      i Am A chronic pain Patient Snd ive been on opiate for years and i need somethig for my pain that will help

  2. Avatar

    Roy Smith

    April 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I agree me and my wife are disabled with severe back and neck pain and the medical marijuana we get from Michigan from my sister in law really helps more than the pain pills but if we get caught we go to jail trying self Medicate ourselves shame on Tennessee but moonshine and alcohol all ok no one has died from marijuana unlike alcohol many deaths every day from it

  3. Avatar

    Michael ward

    April 19, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I suffer from opioid addiction and I have been on suboxen for 6 years now I would much rather smoke weed then take suboxen that has side effects when you stop taking it I’m all for this bill and hopefully I can smoke weed in stead of popping another pill to take care of my drug addiction

  4. Avatar

    Paula Lewis

    April 24, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    How to quickly boost the economy, creat jobs, get more infrastructure built? Legalize weed on a country wide scale. It won’t take long for the economy to recover and then some. Package it like cigarettes too.

  5. Avatar

    cody stephens

    June 16, 2020 at 6:17 am

    My name is cody Stephen’s please legalize this for medical use I have Crohn’s disease and it is some of the most unbearable pain I have ever felt it controls my job my home life with my two year old son it rules everything and I hate pain pills I have seen them take down some really good ppl into addiction and they dont work good with my body make me sick and hot all kinds of stuff but the herb helps me for up to six hours with pain with just one use. I say please consider this it’s not for everyone I understand but it is for us in pain and I know its illegal so it’s very hard to find and I hate to even get it because I could get in trouble and it affects my son if that happens I just want to be able to live a nice easy life with my child and wife I beg ppl to thank about this and consider ppl in pain that want to do it legally I mean criminals are going to do it no matter what its us that are in pain and want to be on the right side of the law that are suffering from this so please help us

  6. Avatar

    James W Perkins Jr

    June 16, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I have sever back and knee pain from over the years of lifting weights. I used to self medicate by smoking marijuana for the pain and it helped 100%. It also gave me the relief to where I built strength due to mo body pain. legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use would help the economy as well as the arrest that are made for small amounts. You would like to profit off of alcohol which has been proven to cause death, but not legalize marijuana which had mo death count. We all know that some of our Dr.’s, nurses, cops, lawyers, judges, firefighters and high profile lawmakers use marijuana. Let’s stop hiding behind feeling shame and open the doors to ways that help heal with some of our sicknesses which it has been proven. Step up your game Tennessee. The times are changing just like your cities ate getting bigger. Think about the jobs that it would create on a “legal” level. Use the money made from legalize marijuana to fix park’s,books for schools, free tuition for schooling, better libraries, better security, creating jobs so people can get out of debt. Let’s get out the stone age and get aboard. This state has more chemical drug users and junkies than marijuana smokers.

  7. Avatar


    June 27, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    My daughter has anoxia brain injury with cognitive issues, anxiety etc., and I truly believe that medical marijuana would be so helpful to her. Please see that this gets pass for people that are suffering with various medical conditions including all traumatic and anoxia brain injuries. Nobody knows how bad these conditions can be until you walk in our shoes.

  8. Avatar

    Scotty Smith

    July 6, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    I have two options I need help deciding which one to choose, either to LIVE or choose Certain Death, My medical condition puts me in the position, to allow others to decide whether to I live or die, this is where I’m undecided what to do, will you help me in my decision, The Department of Veterans Affairs (Federal Government) and The State of Tennessee allows me to be treated with very powerful opiates, FENTANYL, is what the VA in the State of TN, will allow me to possess, control, or abuse that medication. With all parties including myself know I face certain death taking that medication. The Department of Veterans Affairs (federal government) along with state of Tennessee will not let me consume cannabis or provide me access to it, nor possess or control or abuse it, the only substance that will offer me a chance at a managed pain free life. So I’m asking for your help with my decision should I follow the law and take the medication that’s going to cause me certain death I break the law and have a chance at a pain free life, if anything help me make the decision for my children sake.

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