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CannaBeat: Tennessee’s Medical Cannabis Bill Stymied by Coronavirus

The Tennessee General Assembly will skedaddle this year after they get the budget done.

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All right, we know there are bigger fish to fry at the moment than cannabis. (Well, unless some dank nugs can defeat coronavirus. Wait. Has anybody even thought of that yet?! Oooh. Well, remember you heard it thought of here first.)

The Tennessee General Assembly has decided to skedaddle this year after they get the budget done. Totally understand. Everyone needs to do their part to help stop this awful virus and let us get back to normal (well, normal-ish, I guess).

Anyhow, legislators are going to leave a ton of legislation in limbo when they leave. That's good and bad, I guess, depending on where you sit. But one big piece of legislation that probably won't see action until 2021 is a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana in Tennessee.

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Last Wednesday, a bill by Rep. Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) won a crucial up-vote by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Called the Tennessee Clinical Cannabis Authorization and Research Act, the bill "legalizes and decriminalizes the possession, consumption, cultivation, processing, purchase, transportation, and sale of medical cannabis and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant to any qualifying patient who has been assessed by a medical care practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition and has successfully applied for a medical registry identification card."

That was a mouthful. But it does a couple of simple things. It legalizes medical marijuana in Tennessee. It allows for the sale of "sprays intended for sublingual [under the tongue] or buccal [between the cheek and gum] administration, capsules, pills, suppositories, transdermal patches, ointments, lotions, lozenges, tinctures, oils, and liquids." But it does not allow for the sale of "vape or vaporization pens or cartridges, atomization, nebulization, gummies, candy, candy bars, or products in a form that a reasonable person would consider as marketed or appealing to children."

That last part about "appealing to children" includes flower product. So you won't find raw buds or pre-rolls in any store if this bill is passed. Womp. Womp. But you take what you can get, right?

So, who qualifies for medical cannabis here if the legislature picks it back up next year? Well, it'd be considered medicine, of course. So, the bill now allows for patients with a range of maladies like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell disease, chronic pain, muscle spasms, seizures, and a raft of other disorders "that interfere with mental health."

The rest of the bill is aimed at organizing the Tennessee Clinical Cannabis Commission to oversee medical cannabis here. That group would define and license retail outlets and grow operations and have the final word on what types of medical conditions are covered.

The bill got further than any cannabis bill here since 2018. But there was a huge, last-minute amendment that created a huge, last-minute caveat. The bill would only be passed when the federal government downgraded cannabis from a Schedule I drug (alongside LSD and heroin) to Schedule II (alongside cocaine and meth).

Again, we have bigger fish to fry at the moment. But if coronavirus has you anxious, go get yourself some CBD products. Where? Thumb through this week's Flyer and you'll find the finest hemp-product purveyors in the area. Please tell them you saw their ad in this fine publication. We're in this thing together.

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