Tennessee Department of Health Issues Cannabis Health Advisory Memo

Written by | Hemp and Cannabis Updates

On September 27, 2018, in what is most certainly a response to the growing cannabis CBD industry in Tennessee and the growing national market for recreational and medical cannabis, the Tennessee Department of Health along with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, issued a two-page memorandum titled the “Public Health & Safety Advisory on Cannabis, Including Marijuana and Hemp Advisory on Human Use of Products Derived from Cannabis.”

See the advisory memorandum HERE

The advisory urges Tennesseans to have heightened awareness about the use of products derived from cannabis, including marijuana and hemp, and the risks of harm associated with such products claiming to benefit health.  Do certain parts of the cannabis plant, when used properly, produce healthy benefits?  Sure, they do.  Can cannabis, like all things, be detrimental if used improperly and/or abused?  Sure, it can.  With the legalization of certain types of cannabis here in Tennessee, including cannabis-derived CBD products, it is in the areas of tax collection, regulation, guidance and structure where our state needs to play some catch-up.

The advisory tells us that marijuana is addictive, that it is more potent than ever before, that you shouldn’t light up or use during pregnancy, and that getting high can cause motor vehicle crashes.  I guess that guy you knew in college who insisted he “drove better high” may not have been right after all.  More interestingly, the advisory also recognizes that there are a limited number of conditions where the medical literature shows “substantial or conclusive evidence for using Cannabis-derived medications.”  As examples, the advisory lists the following conditions:  (1) nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy; (2) spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis; and (3) chronic neuropathic pain.  The state recognizing such efficacy is perhaps illustration of what many in Tennessee already believe, which is that cannabis-derived products and medicines are here to stay.

Also included in the advisory is a list of the cannabis-derived medicines, yes medical marijuana, that are currently available to Tennesseeans that suffer from conditions such as those mentioned in the paragraph above.  The drugs Cannabidiol (Epidiolex®), Dronabinol (Marinol® and Syndros®), and Nabilone (Cesamet®) are currently available in Tennessee, by prescription, when administered under the care of a healthcare provider.  Sure, this isn’t full-blown medical marijuana with brick and mortar dispensaries and lines of patients waiting to be recommended and select the right strain to relieve their anxiety or tendonitis, but we do live in a state where high-quality CBD products are suddenly abundant and FDA-approved medications are available for those suffering from terrible conditions.

So what does the future hold for cannabis here in Tennessee?  A poll released this month from the Pew Research Center showed 62 percent of Americans supporting legalization of marijuana, including 69 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Republican.  Over thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, with nine states allowing full, recreational use of marijuana.  We believe the expansion of marijuana use and control here in Tennessee, and across the nation, is here to stay.

If you have any questions about the past, present or future of our state’s cannabis industry, or are wondering how you can participate in this industry now, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Last modified: October 16, 2018