Currently, recreational use of marijuana in Tennessee is considered illegal, as the state has some of the strictest regulations and restrictions surrounding the use of this drug. Medicinal marijuana is extremely limited. Penalties for possession and consumption of marijuana in Tennessee are downgraded to misdemeanors, but the effort to legalize the use of cannabis has just about crawled to a halt.
Compared to other states in the nation, Tennessee has some of the most strict regulations surrounding the legalization of medicinal marijuana. Although there were strong efforts in the 2020 election to legalize more medicinal marijuana uses, efforts were largely defeated.
The only exception for medical marijuana is for CBD products. Eligible and legal products must contain less than 0.9% THC and can only be used to treat seizure disorders. Only CBD oil is approved for use which is based on the 2015 legislation approved and signed by Governor Haslam.
Although medical marijuana is legal for some rare instances and only in specific formats, acquiring CBD oil in Tennessee can be incredibly difficult. People must purchase the oil within the US, but not within the state limits. Any oil purchased has to contain less than 0.9% THC. Further, the person who buys the oil must be able to show legal proof of the purchase, with the oil's label fully intact.
Although marijuana possession and use is illegal in Tennessee, penalties surrounding the consumption of the drug have been significantly reduced in recent years. In 2020, possession of 0.5 ounces of marijuana was only considered a misdemeanor. Punishment can consist of a fine of up to $250 and one year of jail time.
Individual cities and police departments have started to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. If a person is found to have less than 0.5 ounces of marijuana, the Nashville District Attorney's Office has declared that they will no longer prosecute offenders. Nashville taking the initial first step in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana has opened the door for other cities and localities to follow suit.
Although there is a solid movement to legalize marijuana from residents of Tennessee, the official creation of a legalization bill seems to be far off. A path to legalization must go through medicinal usage first, which is still limited. Substantial efforts were put forth in 2020 to legalize marijuana. Still, the ballot was rejected, sighting only legal use for CBD products containing less than 0.9% of THC for the sole use of seizure treatment and medication.