HEMP AND CBD LAWS
Hemp Law Group assists individuals and smalls businesses navigate the hemp and CBD industry by obtaining licensing and permits, business formation, drafting corporate agreements, business transaction documents, commercial leases, real estate contracts, and other legal matters related to the cultivation, processing, or selling of hemp in Tennessee.
“Hemp” refers to varieties of the cannabis plant that have no more than 0.3% THC concentration on a dry-mass basis. Cannabis with higher levels of THC is considered marijuana and is illegal under both Tennessee and federal law. Click here for more information on the difference between hemp and marijuana.
“CBD” refers to cannabidiol, which is a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It can be used in several different ways, including vaping, oils, tinctures, capsules, and edibles. Unlike its close cannabinoid relative, THC, CBD is completely non-intoxicating.
Cultivation of hemp is legal under federal law. In December 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Act that lifted the controlled substance designation for hemp and all of its extracts with no more than 0.3% THC concentration.
Cultivation of hemp is also legal in Tennessee. The state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program began in 2015. Tennessee Public Chapter No. 916 amended several laws in Tennessee, including removing hemp from the definition of controlled substances in the Criminal Code (see T.C.A. 39-17-415). At first, both cultivation and transport of hemp were highly regulated. In 2019, the Tennessee Legislature amended the laws pertaining to hemp. In response, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture simplified the rules and regulations regarding hemp. The new rules repealed roughly 50% of the then-existing hemp regulations, including all requirements for hemp seed acquisition and submission of yearly agronomic reports. The new rules also amended the licensing structure to require hemp licenses only for the growth of rooted hemp material.
Likewise, CBD oil derived from hemp (i.e. cannabis with no more than 0.3% THC concentration) is legal in Tennessee and under federal law. CBD derived from marijuana (i.e. cannabis with more than 0.3% THC concentration) is illegal unless it is (1) approved as a prescription medication by the FDA; (2) used by a university for a certified clinical research study and contains less than 0.6% THC; or (3) possessed by a person who has proof of order or recommendation from the issuing state and proof that the person or immediate family member has been diagnosed with intractable seizures or epilepsy by a licensed doctor, and the oil contains less than 0.9% TCH. (See T.C.A. 39-17-402 (16)(e)-(f)).
Hemp Law Group strives to keep its clients up to date on all laws relating to hemp and CBD in Tennessee. The following is an overview of the hemp and CBD laws in the state.
Tenn. Code Ann. 43-27-101(3)-(4) “Chapter Definitions:”
(3) “Hemp” means the plant cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis; and
(4) “THC” means delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
Tenn. Code Ann. 43-27-102 “Hemp License—Requirements—Records:”
(a) Any person who produces hemp in this state shall obtain an annual license from the department.
(b) In order to obtain and maintain a hemp license, a person must:
(1) Submit to the department a description of all land on which the person produces hemp in this state, to include global positioning system coordinates and other information sufficient to identify the property;
(2) Submit to the department any other information prescribed by rules as necessary for the efficient enforcement of this chapter;
(3) Consent to reasonable inspection and sampling by the department of the person’s hemp crop and inventory; and
(4) Not be convicted of a state or federal felony drug offense within the previous ten (10) years.
(c) The department shall maintain all records that the department creates, or that are submitted to the department, for regulation of hemp in this state for a period of at least five (5) years.
Tenn. Code Ann. 43-27-103 “Prohibited Acts:”
The following acts within this state are prohibited:
(1) Possession of rooted hemp by any person, other than a common carrier, without a valid license issued by the department;
(2) Possession of cannabis with THC concentrations greater than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis;
(3) Failure to pay upon reasonable notice any license, sampling, or inspection fee assessed by the department;
(4) Violation of this chapter or any rule promulgated under this chapter; or
(5) Willful hindrance of the commissioner or the commissioner’s authorized agent in performance of their official duties.
Tenn. Code Ann. 43-27-105 “Enforcement of Chapter — Sample and Analysis of Hemp Produced in State:”
(a) The department shall enforce this chapter in a manner that may reasonably be expected to prevent production or distribution of cannabis with THC concentrations exceeding three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis, including random inspections and sampling of hemp licensees to ensure compliance with this chapter and rules promulgated under this chapter.
(b) The department shall sample and analyze hemp produced in this state and hemp products distributed in this state for THC concentrations, tested according to protocols prescribed by rule under this chapter. Departmental testing methods shall employ liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, in a manner similarly reliable to post-decarboxylation, to determine a cannabinoid profile of samples tested, including their THC concentrations.
Tenn. Code. Ann. 43-27-106 “Stop Movement or Destruction Order for Plant or Product Exceeding Authorized Concentrations — Penalties – Evidence:”
(a) When the commissioner or the commissioner’s authorized agent finds any cannabis or cannabis product to contain THC concentrations greater than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis, the commissioner may issue either a written stop movement order or written destruction order for the plant or product, as appropriate to best serve the public interest and purpose of this chapter.
(b) Any person who negligently violates this chapter or rules promulgated under this chapter is subject to administrative action by the department including denial or revocation of any license issued under this chapter; issuance of stop movement orders, destruction orders, and civil penalties; and actions for injunction. Negligent violations of this chapter or rules promulgated under this chapter shall not be the basis for criminal prosecution of any person.
(c) Any person who violates this chapter or rules promulgated under this chapter with a culpable mental state greater than negligence shall be subject to prosecution under any applicable state or federal law. If the department determines that a person has violated this chapter or rules promulgated under this chapter with a culpable mental state greater than negligence, the department shall report the matter to the Tennessee bureau of investigation and the United States attorney general.
(d) In all proceedings brought to enforce this chapter, proof of testing consistent with rules promulgated under this chapter showing THC concentrations greater than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%), but not greater than one percent (1.0%), on a dry weight basis is prima facie evidence of a negligent violation of this chapter.
(e) In all proceedings brought to enforce this chapter, the following are prima facie evidence of violation with a culpable mental state greater than negligence:
(1) Proof of testing consistent with rules promulgated under this chapter showing THC concentrations greater than one percent (1.0%) on a dry weight basis;
(2) Three (3) violations within a five-year period for possession of rooted hemp without a valid license issued by the department; or
(3) Violation of any stop movement or destruction order issued under this chapter.
(f) Any person whose license is revoked for violation of this chapter or rules promulgated under this chapter is ineligible for reissuance of the license for a period of at least five (5) years.
Tenn. Code Ann. 43-27-108 “Exemption from other applicable statutes and rules not provided by this chapter:”
This chapter does not exempt any person from enforcement of statutes and rules applicable to particular uses of hemp, including, but not limited to, food safety statutes and rules for distribution of food products; feed statutes and rules for distribution of commercial feed; and seed statutes and rules for distribution of seed.
RULES OF THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
DIVISION OF CONSUMER AND INDUSTRY SERVICES
CHAPTER 0080-06-28 HEMP
Emergency Rules Filed: June 3, 2019
Effective Through: November 30, 2019
(1) This chapter applies to any person who grows hemp.
(2) Persons licensed under this chapter shall be responsible for operations conducted under their license until either the applicable license expires or the department receives written notification from the licensee desiring to terminate the license. The department shall not refund fees for early termination of any license issued under this chapter.
(3) Licenses issued under this chapter are not transferable from person to person or location to location.
(1) Terms in this chapter share those meanings of terms set forth in Section 12, Public Chapter 87 of 2019.
(2) When used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
(a) Act means Section 12, Public Chapter 87 of 2019;
(b) Cannabis plant means any plant or any part of a plant of the genera Cannabis and includes hemp;
(c) Grow means to cultivate plants with attached roots;
(d) Growing area means any contiguous land area licensed for the growth of hemp. Bifurcation of a growing area by roads, fencing, or the like shall not render the area non-contiguous under this definition;
(e) Move, distribute, transport, or similar words mean to relocate in any manner an item from one real property to another;
(f) Person means an individual, partnership, corporation, or any other form of legal entity;
(g) Sample means to take material or the material taken from a location licensed by the department;
(h) Stop movement order means a written directive issued by the department to prohibit or limit the movement of plants or plant parts; and,
(i) THC means delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
0080-06-28-.03 LICENSE APPLICATION AND FEES.
(1) A hemp license is required to possess rooted hemp and is issued to each person for each physical address where the person grows hemp.
(2) Application for a license shall be made on forms provided by the department, which shall be completed in full and may include:
(a) Name of applicant;
(b) Date of birth of any applicant who is an individual or a partner in a general partnership;
(c) Proof of one of the following for any applicant that is not an individual or a partner in a general partnership:
1. Applicant’s registration in its state of incorporation; or,
2. Applicant’s business license issued by a local governmental authority;
(d) Contact information for applicant, to include name of person legally responsible for applicant’s operations, telephone number, email address, and address of the principal place of business;
(e) Address of the location to be licensed for growth of hemp and description of all growing areas at the location, including total number of growing acres and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates from the areas’ central most points; and
(f) Other information as required by the department.
(3) Licensees shall notify the department of any changes to contact information of an application within 30 days after the change takes place.
(4) The annual fee for a hemp license is assessed under T.C.A. § 43-1-703(f) and is determined according to the total size of growing area(s) at the licensed address: (a) Less than 5 acres: Tier 6 fee; (b) 5 acres to 20 acres: Tier 7 fee; (c) More than 20 acres: Tier 8 fee.
(5) License applicants shall submit an application and license fee to the department on or before July 1 of each year. The annual license fee shall be waived for any institute of higher education that offers programs of study in agricultural sciences seeking licensure for a growing area on university property. Licenses expire on June 30 following their issuance. If an applicant for renewal fails to submit payment of the license fee on or before the following July 16, the applicant shall also be required to pay a late charge assessed under T.C.A. § 43- 1-703 prior to renewal of the license.
(6) The department may deny any application for licensure that is not completed in accordance with this rule.
0080-06-28-.05 CROP DISTRIBUTION AND DESTRUCTION.
(1) Distribution. Licensees shall not distribute rooted hemp to an unlicensed person. Any person may possess, distribute, or store non-rooted hemp.
(2) Destruction. Cannabis plants found to be in violation of the Act or this chapter shall be held from movement or destroyed in accordance with a departmental directive or destruction order.
(3) Costs. Licensees shall pay all costs incurred for destruction of any cannabis plant or plant product.
0080-06-28-.06 MOVEMENT PERMITS.
(1) Licensees shall not move rooted hemp plants without a valid movement permit issued by the department. Licensees shall also not move any hemp to anyone who treats or transforms harvested hemp for distribution in commerce without a valid movement permit issued by the department.
(2) Hemp movement permits are required per vehicle per day. To receive a movement permit, the licensee shall submit a movement permit request on forms provided by the department, which may require:
(a) The hemp license number for which movement is requested;
(b) Origin and destination of movement;
(c) Date of intended movement;
(d) Weight, volume, or number of units of material to be moved.
(3) The department may deny any application for a movement permit that is not completed in accordance with this rule.
(4) Each cannabis plant or plant product moved not in conformity with this rule shall constitute a separate violation of this chapter.
0080-06-28-.07 SAMPLING AND INSPECTIONS.
(1) Scope. The department may enter during normal business hours any location, licensed by the department, for purposes of inspecting any cannabis plant, record, or other material as necessary for the efficient enforcement of the Act and this chapter.
(2) Sampling. The department may conduct sampling of any cannabis plant or other material at a location licensed by the department. A sample collected according to uniform protocols approved by the commissioner shall be deemed representative of the location, growing area, or lesser lot from which the sample was obtained. After the department obtains a sample, licensees shall not move any cannabis plant from the area represented by the sample until the department determines the sample tests no higher than 0.3% THC on a dry mass basis.
(3) Testing protocols. The procedure employed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture defines the preparation of hemp samples for the determination of THC and is conducted in a manner similarly reliable to post-decarboxylation. The preparation steps include extraction and quantitation of cannabinoids. Cannabinoid quantitation is accomplished using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Cannabinoids that can be analyzed by this procedure include delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9 THC), tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN). The THC content of hemp samples is determined on a dry weight basis. Cannabinoids are extracted from test portions of prepared hemp samples by adding a suitable solvent and shaking the samples on a horizontal orbital shaker. Extracts are subsequently centrifuged, and an aliquot of the supernatant is taken for dilution. A portion of this diluted extract is transferred into an autosampler vial for analysis by LC-MS/MS. Quality Control samples are analyzed alongside unknown samples to demonstrate statistical control of the procedure.
(4) Test results exceeding 0.3% THC. Any sample test result higher than 0.3% THC concentration on a dry mass basis shall be conclusive evidence that one or more cannabis plants or plant products from the area sampled contain a THC concentration in excess of that allowed under the Act and shall be grounds for stop movement and destruction orders for any plant within the sampled area.
(5) Destruction. Destruction of any plants or plant products under this rule shall be performed in accordance with a directive from the department, which may include destruction by any means necessary for reasonable assurance that all cannabis plants exceeding allowable limits of THC are destroyed, e.g. by removal and incineration, field burning, deep burial, composting, or other means approved by the department. Any licensee aggrieved by an order issued under this chapter may petition the department in writing for review of the order under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. If no petition is filed with the department within ten days of the department’s order, the order shall become final and will not be subject to review.
(6) Laboratory analysis costs. Licensees shall pay a Tier 4 laboratory analysis fee under T.C.A. § 43-1-703(f) for each sample collected by the department.
(1) In addition to other requirements of this chapter, licensees shall: (a) Possess or grow rooted hemp only within a licensed growing area or under immediate transport to a licensed growing area; and, (b) Upon departmental request, provide full and accurate information regarding the person’s acquisition, cultivation, and distribution of hemp.
(2) In addition to other requirements of this chapter, licensees shall not:
(a) Be convicted of any drug-related felony offense in any state or federal jurisdiction within the previous ten years. Violation of this provision is grounds for immediate denial or revocation of any license issued under this chapter;
(b) Cultivate, move, or distribute cannabis plants other than hemp;
(c) Interfere with an authorized representative of the department in the performance of his duties;
(d) Market or represent hemp or hemp products to be marijuana or any illicit substance in any form; or,
(e) Violate any state or federal quarantine or order issued by the department.
(3) A person is responsible for violations of the Act or this chapter when committed by either the person or his agent.
(4) Each violation of the Act or this chapter is grounds for issuance of stop movement or destruction orders against any cannabis plant held by the violator or his agent; denial or revocation of any license issued under this chapter; actions for injunction; imposition of civil penalties; or referral for criminal investigation pursuant to the Act.
In 2014, Tennessee legislators passed SB 2531, changing the definition of marijuana to create a legal exception for the possession and use of low-THC, CBD rich cannabis oil solely by patients with intractable seizures.
In 2015, SB 280 was passed to allow the use of CBD oil with less than 0.9% THC to treat people with epilepsy and intractable seizures.
In 2016, SB125 amended the section related to university research to allow research of CBD rich cannabis oil with less than 0.6% THC. This was untenable because it required certification from the drug enforcement agency of Tennessee, which was difficult and time-consuming.
In 2016, HB 2144 was passed clarifying that patients may possess CBD oil with no more than 0.9% THC if they have a legal court order or recommendation and they, or an immediate family member, have been diagnosed with epilepsy by a Tennessee physician.
Because hemp is legal in Tennessee, CBD oil derived from hemp (i.e. cannabis no more than 0.3% THC concentration), is also legal in the state. CBD derived from marijuana (i.e. cannabis with more than 0.3% THC concentration) is illegal unless it is (1) approved as a prescription medication by the FDA; (2) used by a university for a certified clinical research study and contains less than 0.6% THC; or (3) possessed by a person who has proof of order or recommendation from the issuing state and proof that the person or immediate family member has been diagnosed with intractable seizures or epilepsy by a licensed doctor, and the oil contains less than 0.9% TCH. (See T.C.A. 39-17-402 (16)(e)-(f)).
Marijuana (cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC concentration) is illegal in all forms in Tennessee, subject to the exceptions for certified university studies and those with court orders or recommendations to use CBD containing a little more than 0.3% THC to treat epilepsy or seizures as outlined in the statute below.
Tenn. Code Ann. 39-17-402 (16) Marijuana
(a) “Marijuana” means all parts of the plant cannabis, whether growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, including concentrates and oils, its seeds or resin;
(b) “Marijuana” does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, except the resin extracted from the mature stalks, fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seeds of the plant which are incapable of germination;
(c) “Marijuana” also does not include hemp, as defined in § 43-27-101;
(d) The term “marijuana” does not include a cannabidiol product approved as a prescription medication by the United States food and drug administration;
(e) The term “marijuana” does not include cannabis oil containing the substance cannabidiol, with less than six tenths of one percent (0.6%) of tetrahydrocannabinol, including the necessary seeds and plants, when manufactured, processed, transferred, dispensed, or possessed by a four-year public or private institution of higher education certified by the drug enforcement administration located in the state as part of a clinical research study on the treatment of intractable seizures, cancer, or other diseases; and
(f) The term “marijuana” does not include oil containing the substance cannabidiol, with less than nine-tenths of one percent (0.9%) of tetrahydrocannabinol, if:
(i) The bottle containing the oil is labeled by the manufacturer as containing cannabidiol in an amount less than nine-tenths of one percent (0.9%) of tetrahydrocannabinol; and
(ii) The person in possession of the oil retains:
(a) Proof of the legal order or recommendation from the issuing state; and
(b) Proof that the person or the person’s immediate family member has been diagnosed with intractable seizures or epilepsy by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine who is licensed to practice medicine in the state of Tennessee.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice. Prior to relying on this information, please contact one of our attorneys for a consultation.Tennessee Department of Agriculture rules and regulations establishing of licensing and regulating any person who cultivates, processes or distributes industrial hemp.
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