KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two bills in the Tennessee General Assembly related to marijuana were recently removed from the calendars of the subcommittees each bill had been sent to earlier in the legislative session; which renders them effectively dead or in limbo.
The marijuana bill that would poll Tennesseans in the November 2022 election (HB 1634) sponsored by Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) was returned to the Clerk’s Desk of the Tennessee House on March 30 after being removed from the calendar. That bill had proposed that county election commissions ask voters three non-binding questions related to the legalization of marijuana on the November 2022 ballot, and their answers be compiled as a public policy opinion poll with results shared with the general assembly.
The marijuana bill dubbed the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans Act” (HB 1968) sponsored by Middle Tennessee Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) was taken off notice for the calendar of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on March 30. Freeman pulled the bill, which had proposed the decriminalization of the use of marijuana under certain circumstances and created a regulatory framework from two state departments (Agriculture and Health, respectively) for the cultivation, transport, research, processing, and distribution of marijuana.
However, in late March WKRN reported that both departments opposed the bill as well as Gov. Bill Lee’s office and the Department of Safety.
So, what does it mean when a proposed bill is removed from the assigned subcommittee calendar?
When bills are removed from calendars for subcommittees, they may still come back for a vote; however, if a bill is not brought back for a vote, the bill essentially “dies,” according to Tennessee General Assembly rules.
In Tennessee, recreational and medical marijuana use is illegal; but the growth and use of hemp with a license is approved. In January, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced it had gained approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its Tennessee State Hemp Plan, which was approved in December 2021.
The difference between hemp and marijuana, although both derived from the same species of cannabis plant, lies in the way their chemical formulas are arranged, according to WebMD. Marijuana contains much more of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) than hemp, while hemp contains a lot of CBD (cannabidiol).
The recreational marijuana industry, legal in several states across the U.S., has reportedly grown to an estimated $25 billion industry.