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Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Voter-backed Decriminalization For Marijuana Possession In Memphis And Nashville

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, has signed into law a bill that undoes recent marijuana decriminalization measures in the state’s two largest cities, the Tennessean reports.

Voters in Memphis and Nashville last year approved the decriminalization of marijuana, both of which gave police officers the option of issuing tickets for small-time marijuana possession in place of making arrests. However, Republican state lawmakers pushed a bill to the governor’s desk that says state law overrides local law in regards to Class B misdemeanors and above, under which marijuana possession falls.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors was Rep. William Lamberth, a Republican from Cottontown. He said of the decriminalization measures, “You can’t allow an officer at their whim to treat two different individuals who have potentially committed the same crime in drastically different ways depending on what that officer feels like at a given time.”

“You just can’t have cities creating their own criminal code, willy-nilly,” Lamberth said.

Despite their popularity among the cities’ voters, reports have indicated that police in Nashville and Memphis did not take much advantage of the change in local laws, which are now no longer valid.

Tennessee: Legislature Blocking Cities' Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

As several states and cities seek to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee's Republican legislature is blocking such efforts in Memphis and Nashville.

Police in those cities could soon be losing their option of issuing a minor citation to individuals found to possess small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee legislators have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession.

The ban would conform to proposals by the Trump administration to step up federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

"I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently. "But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Memphis and Nashville recently authorized their police officers to issue a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service to someone caught with a half ounce or less of marijuana.

Tennessee law currently imposes a misdemeanor charge for possession punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for people caught with a half ounce or less.

Tennessee: Attorney General Says Cities Cannot Enact Marijuana Decriminalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Th Tennessee Office of the Attorney General issued an opinion this week that recently approved marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Memphis and Nashville conflict with state drug laws, and therefore may not be enforced.

City council members in both cities voted this fall to impose local ordinances giving municipal police the option of issuing citations for minor marijuana offenses in lieu of making criminal arrests.

The opinion reads, "[T]he ordinance[s] cannot stand because [they] impede the inherent discretion and responsibility of district attorneys general to prosecute violations of the Drug Control Act."

The opinion was requested by state Republican senators Brian Kelsey and Ron Lollar.

Under Tennessee state law, first-offense marijuana possession violations are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Tennessee: Nashville Marijuana Decriminalization Effort Advances In Metro Council

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A proposal to reduce the charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana took a big step forward Tuesday.

The Metro Council advanced legislation on a second of three readings that would add Nashville to the ever-growing list of cities and states that have passed measures aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.

The ordinance would give police the option of reducing the penalty for people who knowingly possess a half-ounce of marijuana or less in Nashville to a $50 civil penalty or 10 hours of community service.

Currently, people caught with a half ounce of pot or less in Tennessee face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“There’s a large criminal justice reform conversation going on now and there’s a large national conversation that is changing around this particular issue,” said Green Hills-area Councilman Russ Pulley, a co-sponsor of the legislation, noting that multiple states have already legalized marijuana and several more will have referendum votes on the matter in November.

“This gets us involved in that conversation,” he said.

The bill will now be considered for final approval on Sept. 20.

Tennessee: Marijuana Decriminalization In Nashville Faces Important Council Meeting

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill that would reduce the penalty in Nashville for possessing or exchanging small amounts of marijuana faces a crucial vote next week at the Metro Council.

The bill was advanced earlier this month with a 32-4 vote, but it may not see the same support within the 40-member body.

The bill will probably have the support of Mayor Megan Barry, who expressed support for decriminalization during last year's mayoral campaign and has expressed continued support for the idea.

Nashville Police Department records indicate an arrest rate for marijuana misdemeanors at about 20 per day without a felony charge.

The police department is opposed to the bill as proposed, and says that it is due to the wording of the proposed ordinance — it says an offender “shall be issued a citation” as opposed to “may be issued,” which would appear to take discretion away from the officer.

“This is something that targets minorities a lot, small amounts of drugs, and it really hurts their ability to break away from a cycle of poverty,” Councilman Fabian Bedne said.

Nashville's simple possession laws would still differ from those of the state of Tennessee, but the state has shown some support for treating minor marijuana offenses less harshly.

Tennessee: Hemp Maze Opens Near Nashville Next Week

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An hour south of Nashville there is a hemp maze opening to the public next week.

The Tennessee Hemp Industries Association is giving you the opportunity to meander through a tall, waving industrial hemp forest in Chapel Hill every Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11.

Industrial hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa l species and is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana.

The public will be allowed to walk through and admire the maze, but TNHIA has one rule: no touching. TNHIA says that Tennessee state law forbids any plant material to be taken from the field without a designated license of the state’s agricultural pilot program.

The hemp maze event will serve as “an agritourism study in partnership with the crop’s farmers, landowners and the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association,” according to TNHIA.

Founded in 2013, Tennessee Hemp Industries Association is a non-profit aimed at providing “support to state hemp farmers and businesses in the interest of developing a successful state hemp industry,” according to TNHIA.

The educational event takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Aug. 20 through Sept. 11.

Tennessee: Nashville To Consider Decriminalization Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A newly filed ordinance is seeking to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The ordinance would make the penalty for possession or exchange of a half ounce of pot (14.175 grams) or less a civil penalty with a $50 fine. A court could have the option to suspend the civil penalty and instead mandate 10 hours of community service.

Under current Tennessee law, violators of this offence face a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If the Nashville ordinance is approved, a third offense will remain a felony, as required by state law.

“This would allow the police to just write a ticket,” said Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg, a self-described libertarian who is among those who have introduced the Nashville ordinance.

He said that someone who makes a mistake as a kid could be haunted their entire life because of the criminal offenses they face under the current marijuana law here.

“It’s very unproductive,” he said. “This has been an issue that has been moving nationwide from Florida to Washington as our society has come to understand that the most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”

Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Supporters Hope To Embolden Legislature

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Half a dozen medical marijuana supporters last week gathered on Legislative Plaza in Nashville holding signs saying "Green Cross Tennessee." The group advocates medicinal cannabis awareness in the state, and hope to embolden Tennessee lawmakers to provide safe access for patients who need the herb.

On Tuesday a legislative hearing in the Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare Committee focused on what will become a new version of Senate Bill 1248, sponsored by Nashville physician and state Senator Steve Dickerson, reports Chris Bundgaard at WKRN.

"I am not the stereotype that has been created," said retired Nashville financial advisor Paul Kuhn just before the hearing. "There are millions of us out there. I am a long time supporter of marijuana law reform. I have seen it help patients like my late wife when legal medications failed completely."

Kuhn's name has been attached to a failed medical marijuana bill in past years. On Tuesday he was back with many other medicinal cannabis advocates on Tennessee's Capitol Hill for a hearing on a bill which will be introduced next legislative session.

The measure is expected to allow limited, non-smoking use of cannabis oil and capsules for conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

U.S.: National Cannabis Patients Wall Passes 18,000 Members

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The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to change the perception of medical cannabis and its legislation, and humanize the perception of its patients, on Tuesday announced that it has exceeded 18,000 members.

"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages while raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," said founding Executive Director Dana Arvidson of The Wall. "One of our primary goals is to assist patients in every state to reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, and to end the needless suffering, before more people die.

"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.

According to Arvidson, The Walls' patient support group welcomes patient questions and offers loving support during times of trial and celebration. "We provide patients with a place to gather with others that feel the same way," Arvidson said. "It truly helps when a Patient knows they are not alone in their struggle.

"We also share patient's stories of healing or their search for healing, and many times their struggle for legalization in states denying them legal access," Arvidson said. "We also do our best to connect them with appropriate doctors and dispensaries in their area."

U.S.: Marijuana Arrest Turns Into Music Career For Chief Greenbud

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A simple marijuana possession charge in a small Nashville suburb back in 2005 changed the career trajectory of a small business owner and songwriter. When he saw firsthand how the system handles those convicted of what he saw as a victimless crime, Chief Greenbud decided to share his experience.

After writing several songs on the subject and posting them online, he was asked to perform for a local chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Ten years later the Chief is releasing his fourth album and has amassed over 1.7 million followers on his social networks.

Chief Greenbud's latest CD, "Chief Greenbud Volume 4" is set for physical and digital release on August 25.

The Chief said he's especially proud of the title, saying “I've spent a lot of time thinking about it. We've had multiple meetings brainstorming ideas to come up with the perfect name to represent what we're putting on the CD. I feel that we captured its essence,” he noted lightheartedly.

“There are several songs that I am excited for people to hear," Chief Greenbud said. "‘Everybody Gets High’ is an upbeat anthem that every stoner will be able to groove to and sing along with.”

Another song on the disc is 'iBake', about a regular guy who likes to smoke a little weed but is fearful of what may happen if he is caught. As the lyrics state, "I can’t wait for the day when my state says okay, and I won’t waste a single minute being afraid I bake."

Global: National Cannabis Patients Wall Humanizes Patients In 40 Countries

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The National Cannabis Patients Wall, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to humanize and change medical marijuana laws founded in 2014 in Tennessee, now reaches 40 countries around the world and has more than 17,000 members, organizers announced on Tuesday.

"We endeavor to help patients find support, encourage and support activism while educating the public about medical cannabis and its advantages, and raising funds to build display walls to represent patients from every state," explained NCPW founder Dana Arvidson of Nashville, Tennesseee.

“The National Cannabis Patient's Wall not only signifies our solidarity as patients in need of a safer and effective alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals, but also the barriers we must overcome, our current State and Federal laws, which keep us from the medicine we desire and need," Arvidson said.

Arvidson said the group, which maintains a prominent social media presence including on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+, aims to help patients in every state and country reverse the prohibition of cannabis this year, "and to end the needless suffering, before more people die."

"We work daily to assist the repeal of marijuana prohibition, opening the door to common sense regulation," Arvidson said.

According to Arvidson, one of the best parts of NCPW is letting patients know they aren't facing illness and often legal persecution all alone.

"We provide patients with a place to gather with others who feel the same way," she said. "It truly helps when a patient knows they are not along in their struggle.

Tennessee: GOP Medical Marijuana Bill: Eat It Or Rub It On, But Don't Smoke It

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tennessee's weirdly Puritan attitude towards cannabis is being highlighted this week by a medical marijuana bill being drawn up by Republican state lawmakers.

Those drafting the legislation said the measure would allow the cannabis to be eaten or applied externally through topical oil, but not smoked, reports Chris Bundgaard at WKRN.

"It would likely be the most conservative medical marijuana bill in the country, and if passed, the nation's most carefully controlled law," bragged Capitol Hill lobbyist David McMahan, who failed to explain what's so damned attractive about "the most conservative medical marijuana bill" rather than "the medical marijuana bill most helpful to patients." McMahan's lobbying firm has been hired to help guide the bill through the GOP-dominated Tennessee Legislature.

McMahan told News 2 he has been hired by a group called Tenncangrow, which is listed as a Murfreesboro LLC and headed by estate planning lawyer David B. Laroche.

The two GOP bill sponsors, Rep. Ryan Williams of Putnam County and Sen. Steve Dickerson, MD of Nashville, said the bill would be "limited" in scope.

McMahan called it a "carefully controlled measure with a limited delivery method." It really is starting to sound as if these folks believe that the fewer patients helped, the better a medical marijuana bill is.

Tennessee: Governor Signs CBD-Only 'Study' Bill Into Law

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a very limited, CBD-only, medical marijuana "study" bill into law last Friday. Sadly, the bill may not ever result in relief for any patients at all.

Senate Bill 2531 creates a four-year study on the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, reports the Marijuana Policy Project. The bill specifies that Vanderbilt University will conduct the study, and Tennessee Tech will theoretically grow the cannabis.

As has been the case with similarly weak "CBD-only" legislation passed in other conservative states recently, the many limitations of the bill mean it won't result in relief for patients; Tennessee hasn't become a "medical marijuana state" by any stretch of the imagination.

The law foolishly depends on the cooperation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in authorizing the cultivation of marijuana in Tennessee for the study; it's as if those who wrote the bill haven't bothered to inform themselves of the fact that the DEA has never authorized anyone except The University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for the past 50 years.

CBD-only laws leave most potential medical marijuana patients to suffer. CBD has been found effective in quelling seizures, but those treating seizure disorders with medical marijuana are only a small percentage of total patients who could benefit from cannabis.

Tennessee: Medical Marijuana Bill's Sponsor 'Very Hopeful'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Past medical marijuana bills have gained little traction in the Tennessee Legislature, and both Democratic sponsors of the last bill, proposed in 2012, lost re-election bids after their districts were redrawn by Republicans. But Rep. Sherry Jones, a Democrat from Nashville, said she is "very hopeful" about her bill's chances this year.

The bill, HB 1385, known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, lists conditions from glaucoma to post-traumatic stress disorder as qualifying conditions, and also includes the phrase "any other medical condition or its treatment as certified or prescribed by practitioners and approved by the health department," reports WBIR. Under the bill, which outlines procedures for growing and dispensing marijuana, the program would be named Safe Access.

"This is about compassion," Rep. Jones told The Huffington Post on Wednesday. "It's about giving people better health care, giving them a better quality of life."

The bill is currently in the Tennessee House Government Operations Subcommittee, where it has three votes and needs two more, according to Rep. Jones on Wednesday.

Tennessee: Bill Filed To Legalize Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Democratic lawmaker has filed a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee.

"It's just simply a matter of being rational and compassionate," said Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), who sponsors HB 1385, reports Tom Humphrey at The Knoxville News-Sentinel. "It would apply to only the most severely debilitated people ... children suffering a hundred seizures a day, people on chemotherapy, people with multiple sclerosis ... people with a plethora of diseases."

The Tennessee Legislature passed a bill allowing "marijuana by prescription" under state law in the 1980s, but that bill was unworkable as it required federal permission. Attempts since then have died in legislative committees, most recently in 2012.

But Rep. Jones, along with Doak Patton, president of Tennessee NORML, say times have changed in the state because of the rapidly developing political situation around cannabis.

"This really isn't about marijuana at all," said Patton. "It's about freedom and liberty."

"I think anybody would tell you alcohol is much worse than marijuana," Rep. Jones said. "If you think alcohol should be legal, then you would think that for sure medical marijuana should be legal."

Kentucky: Agriculture Commissioner To Pitch Hemp To Auto Executives

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is taking his pitch for industrial hemp to auto manufacturers on Thursday.

Comer is attending AutoConnect, a trade conference in Nashville, where executives from Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda and other manufacturers will be attending, reports Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The commissioner of agriculture hopes to tell the execs about using hemp, which he said contains "longer, stronger, lighter and greener" fibers than the products currently used in the auto manufacturing process.

"It has been my goal to make the pitch for Kentucky-grown industrial hemp to automobile manufacturers," Comer said. "Now the opportunity is here and I believe this could be a win-win: a win for Kentucky farmers and a win for an industry working hard to find a more environmentally sound manufacturing process."

Some automakers in Europe are already using hemp as a biodegradable, sustainable material in parts such as dashboards, interior panels, and soundproofing.

Comer said Kentucky farmers might plant hemp next year despite an advisory letter issued last month by state Attorney General Jack Conway saying that farmers who do so "will expose themselves to potential criminal liability and the possible seizure of property by federal or state law enforcement agencies."

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