With no opposition in the state legislature, the state of Tennessee passed a bill legalizing cannabis oil. Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law in early May 2015.
The bill restricts the circumstances in which the oil can legally be used to treat epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Cannabis oil with a concentration of less than .9 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can now be administered under the supervision of physicians affiliated with medical schools. This means only high cannabidiol (CBD) strains have been legalized. Patients and their families, who have been closely following the legal developments surrounding this issue, will now legally have access to a drug that is emerging as an effective treatment in cases for which few other options exist.
In order to legally possess the cannabidiol (CBD) oil, patients or their family members must be able to prove that the patient has a recommendation from a licensed physician, and the oil must be carried only in bottle labeled by the manufacturer, indicating that the oil contains less than .9 percent THC. Anyone found in possession of the oil who does not meet these criteria can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
In order to qualify to produce or dispense the cannabis oil, applicants must pay a $250 fee, demonstrate that they will keep accurate records, and show that they will be cultivating cannabis in an enclosed, locked, alarmed facility that is at least 500 feet from any preexisting school.
Licensed facilities will then be required to pay a $1,000 participation fee and must re-apply for licenses every two years. They may not employ anyone who has been convicted of a felony drug offense. In order to ensure that qualified patients have access to the medication, the Department of Health will establish its own dispensary in the event there are no other applicants for the program.
The law also calls for the creation of a 13-member advisory committee made up of appointed medical professionals, patient advocates, patients, law enforcement officials, and the commissioners of the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture, along with the director of the Board of Pharmacy.