Legislation introduced to permit medical cannabis access in Tennessee

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can do to help these patients. If this is what it takes to get them relief, that’s what I’m going to do,” said doctor Rep. Bryan Terry.


Lawmakers at Tennessee’s state capitol are taking big strides towards the legalization of medical cannabis. 

Four bills have already been filed by Democrats and Republicans to legalize medical cannabis containing more than the currently allowed THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) limit of 0.9 percent.

Two bills seek to completely legalize the plant in medicinal form. Those bills also include elements relating to sale and cultivation.

The third proposal is a voter-focused resolution that was put forward by Nashville Democrat Rep. Jason Powell. 

“What we already have is not working. It’s not true medical cannabis. Let’s ultimately put this in front of the voters of Tennessee and let them decide,” said Rep. Powell, who also inked his signature on a fourth bill that was introduced by doctor Rep. Bryan Terry and Murfreesboro Republican.

Based on the legal language contained in Terry’s bill, Tennessee patients with specific types of medical conditions would be legally allowed to travel to other states to obtain their medical cannabis.

Medical cannabis in Tennessee: Rep. Terry says he will do what it takes to help patients get their medicine

In February of 2019, Rep. Terry called for a medical approach to cannabis consumption across the State of Tennessee. He has also sponsored previous bills to legalize medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, past efforts have either been amended or have fallen flat. Looking to the future, he intends on simplifying the process of medicinal cannabis access for patients from all walks of life.

I’m just trying to do whatever I can do to help these patients. If this is what it takes to get them relief, that’s what I’m going to do,” explained Terry.

Each piece of legislation must first gain approval from committee members and will undergo careful analysis from lawmakers who have previously boycotted similar legislation. While advocates remain hopeful, concerns are arising.

For example, many state residents who rely on medical cannabis treatments have had no other option but to cross the border to legal cannabis states — something that has seriously burdened their families.

“I think the discussion needs to be had. I think you see other people out there, Republican and Democrat bringing these types of legislation. It’s something that the people want,” added Terry.

Tennessee’s medical cannabis laws: An overview

It is illegal to consume cannabis in Tennessee, unless for limited medical purposes as set out under state law. Someone who is caught in possession of even a small amount of the plant – in whatever form – will be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

However, Tennessee law allows for CBD products to contain a maximum of 0.3 percent THC, meaning that full spectrum CBD products are legal statewide.

Tennessee’s existing cannabis policy does not mirror the opinions of voters, with a Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) poll from 2018 revealing that 81 percent of Tennesseans support some level of cannabis legalization, whereas 44 percent advocate medical use and 37 percent advocate adult-use legalization.