General Assembly Advances Conflicting Bills on Medical Marijuana Legalization in Tennessee

Two bills are wrestling over whether Tennessee will have immediate or postponed legalization of medical marijuana. The two bills – the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act and the proposal to establish a medical cannabis commission – pose a direct challenge to one another. The former would outright legalize medical marijuana, enacting an entirely new chapter within the Tennessee Code under Title 68: Health, Safety and Environmental Protection. If passed, Tennessee would join 36 states in legalizing cannabis for medical purposes.

The latter would pump the brakes on the momentum sought by the former. Instead, the bill would establish a commission reviewing federal and state laws on the subject, and would provide that no medical cannabis program be enacted by the state until the federal government removes marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The commission would publish annual reports and recommendations, beginning next year and continuing indefinitely – that is, until the federal government adjusts marijuana on its controlled substances list.

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