Tennessee cannabis growers lobby on Capitol Hill in Nashville

March 14, 2020

On Monday, February 24 and Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Tennessee cannabis growers lobbied on Capitol Hill in Nashville for three separate bills.

Four of the Lobbyists included Greg & Debbie Pilant with Leviathan Cannabis and Cole Ebel & Madison Nowak of Cumberland Cannabis Company.

Leviathan is a Canadian company which processes and manufactures CBD heavy cannabis and Cumberland Cannabis is a wholesale distributor of numerous cannabis growers and processors from the State of Tennessee.

The lobbyists met with numerous senators and representatives, including our own senator, Mark Pody who fully supported all three bills and Terri Lynn Weaver, who generally supported, but stated she would read through the details of the bills.

The first bill, known as the “Constitutional Protection for Hemp” bill, is sponsored by Rep. Jay Reedy (R) & Sen. Janice Bowling (R). (HB 0274 / SB 0279). This bill prohibits police searches based solely on the odor of cannabis and specifies that hemp and products derived from hemp, other than isolated THC, are NOT subject to scheduling as a controlled substance and are NOT subject to forfieture based solely on their composition. The reasons for this bill is it protects our 4th amendment right for people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches & seizure. Hemp is legal and its scent does not justify searches. This protects farmers and processors working with a legal crop and protects consumers who use hemp and CBD products.

“You have people who are hurting, using a completely legal and natural plant, who are being harassed and having their constitutional rights violated based on an odor, which cannot be distinguished from THC cannabis, which is medically legal in 39 other states,” said Cole Ebel, owner of Cumberland Cannabis Company in Carthage. “Why are we going to encourage law enforcement to break constitutional and state laws on searching a person based on suspicion for gauging a substance which emits the same terpenes as THC cannabis even though it has almost zero THC?”

The second bill, known as the “Hemp Consumer Protection Act of 2020”, is sponsored by Rep. Bryan Terry (R) & Sen. Richard Briggs (R). (HB 2054 & SB 1944). This bill prohibits revocation of parole, probation, or bail based on drug test result that is positive for THC below a certain level; prohibits public employers from taking adverse employment action and denying certain benefits based on such test result. The reason for this bill is it is protecting consumers who rely heavily on legal full spectrum hemp products which are helping with pain and supplementing scheduled pharmaceuticals. It’s supporting a healthy and legal market for sales and use of full spectrum hemp harvests and products. This would apply to state, county, and city employees.

The last bill, known as the “Hemp is Not Tobacco – No Tobacco Tax” bill, is sponsored by Rep. Jay Reedy (R) & Sen. Frank Nicely (R) specifies that rolled hemp is not a cigarette and hemp is not a substitute for tobacco for purposes of clarifying that such products are not subject to the tobacco tax. Many Tennessee farmers are trying to sell their crops and would have trouble doing so if charged an extra tax. Tobacco is deadly and addictive and its tax helps support various government healthcare funds. Hemp is not addictive.