The Tennessee legislature is making a last-minute push to expand cannabis access in the state, ever so slightly.
Legislators are debating a proposal, HB 490, that has been amended to raise the allowable THC levels in cannabis oil. The legal threshold would go from 0.6% to 0.9%, which medical marijuana users have told lawmakers can make all the difference in whether the cannabis oil is effective.
The oil still couldn’t be sold in Tennessee. But if it’s brought in from out of state for people with eight diagnosable conditions, state law would allow it. Tennesseans who suffer from intractable seizures can already possess the 0.9% cannabis oil, but the compromise proposal adds eight more conditions:
- End-stage cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- HIV and AIDS
- Sickle cell disease
The bill also creates a commission to create marijuana regulations when the federal government decriminalizes cannabis.
Gov. Bill Lee moved to block a slightly broader medical marijuana bill, also sponsored by Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro. But the governor is no longer opposing this legislation, which could get final votes within 24 hours. The committees are reconvening for the express purpose of fast-tracking the legislation in its current form.
Democrats have expressed concerns that the language of the bill could hinder the state from widening medical marijuana in future years. But Republicans who have supported medical marijuana see the legislation as an incremental step worth taking this year.
“I think what it does is it advances the ball about as far as we can comfortably get it down the field at this point in time and put ourselves in the position to where we can make steps about further advancement as time goes,” Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, said in a committee hearing Tuesday. “We’re not just going to be wasting another six-month period.”