2 bills removed from subcommittee schedules

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – Two marijuana-related Tennessee General Assembly bills were recently removed from the schedules of the subcommittees each bill was sent to earlier in the legislative session; which makes them effectively dead or in limbo.

The Marijuana Bill That Would Poll Tennessees in the November 2022 Election (HB 1634) sponsored by Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) was returned to the clerk’s office at Tennessee House on March 30 after being removed from the schedule. This bill proposed that county election commissions ask voters three non-binding questions related to the legalization of marijuana during the November 2022 ballot, and that their answers be compiled in the form of an opinion poll on the public policies, the results of which would be shared with the general assembly.

The Marijuana Bill dubbed the “Free All Cannabis Law for Tennessees” (H.B. 1968) sponsored by Middle Tennessee Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) was removed from the Criminal Justice Subcommittee’s schedule on March 30. Freeman withdrew the bill, which proposed decriminalizing the use of marijuana in certain circumstances and created a two-state regulatory framework (Agriculture and Health, respectively) for cultivation, transportation, research, the processing and distribution of marijuana.

However, in late March, WKRN reported that both departments opposed the bill along with Governor Bill Lee’s office and the Department of Security.

So what does it mean when a proposed bill is removed from the assigned subcommittee’s schedule?

When bills are removed from subcommittee schedules, they can always come back for a vote; however, if a bill is not brought back to a vote, the bill “dies”, according to the rules of the Tennessee General Assembly.

In Tennessee, the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes is illegal. but the cultivation and use of hemp with a license is approved. In January, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced that it had obtained approval from the United States 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 in the United States, is said to have grown to an estimated $25 billion industry.

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