Only days ago, we discussed the prospects for cannabis reform in Tennessee. And lawmakers are already pushing such reform in the early days of this legislative session.
On the hemp front, Rep. Chris Hurt filed House Bill 1690 last week in an effort, he said, to “legitimize” the hemp industry. HB1690 would (1) create a licensing requirement for retailers and wholesalers; (2) establish a tax on the wholesale of hemp-derived cannabinoids; and (3) limit the sale of psychotropic hemp-derived products like Delta-8 to those 21 and older.
According to the Tennessee Growers Coalition, which collaborated with Hurt on the bill, the state could collect $160,000 annually in licensing fees and as much as $4–5 million in annual tax revenue.
On the marijuana front, the Nashville Post reported that Rep. Bob Freeman is soon expected to file a more expansive bill that would legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. According to Freeman, the so-called FACT Act would “create the best cannabis program in America much like we have created for the hemp industry in Tennessee.” The upcoming bill would include “retroactive criminal justice reform,” tax revenue for rural and minority business development and support for Tennessee farms, among other features touted by Freeman. The proposal “could be a game changer for Tennessee,” he added.
It is too soon to tell whether either of these proposals will become law, but they are strong indicators that the Legislature will be forced to squarely address the question of cannabis reform during this legislative session. With public polling showing more than 80% support for reform, advocates finally have a reason for optimism in Tennessee.