Tennessee’s medical cannabis law, SB 2531, was signed in May 2014, creating an extremely narrow legal exception that does not protect the vast majority of residents. The law has been amended in 2015 and 2016 to fix problems that made the law unworkable.  However, even with the amendments, there is still limited access for patients.   

Under the law, licensed physicians can recommend cannabis oil that contains less than 0.9% THC, but only to treat severe seizure disorders. In Tennessee, cannabis must be produced and manufactured by a university in as part of an approved clinical trial. 

In May 2016, the legislature amended a provision related to university research.  The law now allows university research for 0.6% THC, allows any university in the state to participate, and allows research to be conducted on intractable seizures, cancer, and other diseases.  However, the law also requires any study to be “certified by the drug enforcement administration located in the state,” effectively hampering supply. There is no legal protection offered for independent patient caregivers, dispensaries, producers or processors. Recommending physicians must supply a report to Tennessee’s General Assembly by January 2018 on the results of all cannabis research, including the number of patients involved, the parameters of the study and the outcomes of each participant.

Qualifying Patients

  • Must be diagnosed with an uncontrolled seizure disorder
  • Must be enrolled in an approved clinical research study
  • Must be under the care of a physician at a hospital or clinic affiliated with a school of medicine 
  • Must not possess forms of cannabis oil that contain over 0.9% tetrahydrocannibinol (THC)

Recommending Clinicians

  • Must be practicing at a hospital or associated clinic
  • Must be affiliated with an approved University’s school of medicine
  • Must be conducting clinical research on treatment for intractable seizures
  • Must report findings of patient study to the Tennessee Legislature by January 2018


No Explicit Legal Protection


No Explicit Legal Protection


No Explicit Legal Protection


No Explicit Legal Protection


SB 2531 (2014) - changes 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.

SB 280 (2015) - authorizes use of cannabidiol oil with less than 0.9 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol to treat intractable seizures or epilepsy in certain circumstances.

SB 2125 (2016) - excludes from the definition of marijuana, cannabis oil containing the substance cannabidiol, with less than 0.6 percent THC, including the necessary seeds and plants, when manufactured, processed, transferred, dispensed, or possessed by certain four-year institutions of higher education in this state as part of clinical research studies on the treatment of intractable seizures, cancer, or other diseases

HB 2144 (2016) - patients may possess CBD oils with no more than 0.9% THC if they have “a legal order or recommendation” and they or an immediate family member have been diagnosed with epilepsy by a Tennessee doctor. 


Tennessee Department of Health