The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
A bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature has been amended to make any hemp product containing more that 0.3% THC illegal.
Currently, in Tennessee, hemp products containing a small amount of THC are legal but a caption bill introduced by Republicans William Lamberth (R-Portland-District 44) in the House and Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville-District 7) in the Senate seeks to make the sale of any hemp product with a concentration of more that 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) subject to criminal prosecution.
As mentioned above, House Bill 1927 and Senate Bill 1904 were filed as caption bills with the following summary: “As introduced, changes the date, from January 1 to January 15, by which the medical cannabis commission must submit its annual report to the general assembly. – Amends TCA Title 33; Title 38; Title 39, Chapter 15, Part 4; Title 39, Chapter 17; Title 43, Chapter 27; Title 53; Title 67 and Title 68, Chapter 7.”
The unamended version of House Bill 1927 passed the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 30th, 2022 and has been assigned to next be heard by the Criminal Justice Committee.
The unamended version of Senate Bill 1904 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 30th, 2022 with only the Democrats voting against and has been assigned to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
However, a Senate amendment has been filed, dated April 4th, 2022 that completely changes the language of the legislation. The amendment seeks to replace current language of both the House and Senate bills.
SUMMARY OF BILL AS AMENDED (015310): Redefines “marijuana,” as applicable to criminal offenses, thereby establishing that marijuana includes hemp which has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
Assumptions for the bill as amended (partial):
- This legislation will effectively prohibit the sale or possession of hemp products that have a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
- Currently, hemp products containing the delta-8 cannabinoid, a form of THC, are unregulated at the state and federal level and are commonly sold across the state.
- The sale of such products is assumed to be due to the psychoactive effects of such cannabinoid.
- Many of such products are assumed to exceed the concentration threshold of 0.3 percent.
- It is assumed that the majority of retailers who currently sell such products will cease sale of such products across the state or modify the product offerings to be in compliance with state law, rather than risk criminal penalties.
- Prohibiting the sale of such products will result in a decrease in state and local sales tax revenue.
- Based on Fiscal Review Committee staff’s research, the market in this state, to which this legislation applies, is valued to exceed $180,000,000.
- It is assumed that placing a 0.3 percent cap on delta 8 products will result in a 25 percent decrease in sales, or approximately $45,000,000 ($180,000,000 x 25%).
- The net recurring decrease in state revenue as a result of this legislation is estimated to be $2,963,957 ($3,036,064 – $72,107).
- The net recurring decrease in local revenue as a result of this legislation is estimated to be $1,209,511 ($1,238,936 – $29,425).
The amendment goes on to state terms of incarceration for selling such products. Partial list below.
- This legislation will include certain hemp products within the definition of marijuana, effectively prohibiting the sale or possession of hemp products that have a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, regardless of whether such THC is derived of the delta-8 cannabinoids or otherwise.
- This legislation will result in an increase in felony arrests of persons in possession of hemp products with THC concentration levels exceeding the legal limit established by this legislation.
- Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-417(g), it is a graded felony offense to manufacture, deliver, sell, or possess marijuana… dependent upon the volume of marijuana, in whatever form…
Proponents of Delta-8 containing products believe that the products which are sold in the form of gummies, sprays and oils help people with health issues such as stress, anxiety and chronic pain. Proponents also believe that, unlike opioids, Delta-8 is not an addictive narcotic.
However, the House bill sponsor, William Lamberth states that the unregulated Delta-8 products are highly addictive and potentially dangerous.
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Some Tennessee business owners are concerned about how the legislation will affect their livelihoods if it passes into law.
Sam O’Sullivan of Tennessee Health Alternatives Association said, “This bill as amended, it will kill businesses across this state. We’ll drop 50%. I’ll have to fire multiple, multiple people.”
CBD Store owner, Will Vance, says “Unfortunately, for not only us a lot of companies, if they’re not able to sell good quality CBD and Delta-8 products it definitely could ruin their life or their livelihoods at least temporarily.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com