In May of 2014, Governor Bill Haslam signed a very controlled, very limited bill regarding medical marijuana into law. The law allows for a four year study of cannibidiol, or CBD, by Vanderbilt University. High amounts of CBD have been linked to the effective treatment of seizures, though no one currently knows why. Discoveries like this led to the formation of the bill, as the plan is to explore the effects of CBD specifically for treating “intractable seizures.” (An intractable seizure disorder is one that cannot be controlled by at least two approved medications.)
The law, however, places very strict regulations on the study and cultivation of CBD; in fact, it’s entirely reliant on the DEA allowing Tennessee to cultivate the drug in order to study it. (If they grant permission, Tennessee Tech will grow the plants for the Vanderbilt study.) The study should determine whether CBD is an effective medicine for treating illness on its own, or whether it needs additional compounds found in marijuana in order to work.
What this means for marijuana usage
While Governor Haslam may have taken these initial steps to studying the effects of marijuana for medicinal purposes, this in no way decriminalizes marijuana usage. Under Tennessee Code 39-17-415, marijuana is a Schedule VI drug, and the penalties associated with it can be harsh. Simple, first time possession is a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee, which means you *only* face up to a year in jail and up to $2500 in fees and fines. But if you’re charged with selling, cultivating or intent to distribute, you’re facing prison time, as all of those examples are felony charges. Possession of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor; sale of paraphernalia is a felony.
Every drug charge is serious, even misdemeanor charges. And right now, using, selling and owning marijuana in any form is still a crime in Tennessee. If you’ve been charged with a marijuana-related crime, it is crucial that you contact a criminal defense lawyer. You don’t want to face drug charges alone.