History of CBD and Cannabis: Tennessee
Despite Tennessee’s restrictive cannabis policies, the state has a history that stems far back with the marijuana and hemp industries. In the nineteenth century, the state petitioned the federal government repeatedly to ramp up hemp production in rural areas.
At the time, officials stated that hemp grew wildly along dried river beds and moist areas; however, the industry remained largely neglected for over a century. Hemp had the opportunity to be used in fabric, composite, and nutritious food source production throughout the region.
Now, the story is far different. Officials went through extreme efforts to implement wild hemp destruction in the late twentieth century as societal concerns about its influence grew.
Cannabis, CBD, and Tennessee
Currently, it’s illegal to carry any amount of marijuana in the state of Tennessee. Like other Southern states, possession is considered a misdemeanor for any amount less than 30 grams. Alleged attempts to sell can result in years of imprisonment, recurrent fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Interestingly, a 2015 bill legalized marijuana and low THC CBD for the purposes of medical treatment. Patients with specific qualifying conditions, like epilepsy, cancer, and glaucoma, are legally allowed access to cannabis in the state.
When Governor Haslam signed the bill into law, it might extremely strong opposition throughout the legislature despite constituent support. Those in support of cannabis reform were against the bill, since it created no framework for legal sales within the state. Instead, patients are required to purchase marijuana or CBD outside of the state, which may be in conflict with interstate law.
Even more confusingly, possession of CBD and high THC strains can still result in a misdemeanor charge within the state. Purchasing strains inside the state from unlicensed vendors can result in even more strict criminal charges.
Ultimately, decriminalization and legalization have come down to municipal reforms rather than robust state-wide programs. Non governmental agencies, like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), petitioned Davidson County to deprioritize police arrests on nonviolent drug offenders.
In Davidson, the petition failed to reach ballot since it was short a few thousand signatures.
Following the failed petition, Nashville and Memphis both decriminalized possession of cannabis. This caused a huge stir in the state legislature, resulting in repeals that has prevented cities from implementing further decriminalization.
Proponents of marijuana reform continue to argue that nonviolent drug arrests drain state resources from more worthy campaigns. In 2016, the Tennessee state government spent over 40 million imprisoning and prosecuting minor marijuana charges.