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Importing marijuana oil for medical use in TN breaks federal law

People with a host of terminal, intractable or untreatable conditions often turn to marijuana for help. Extracts and concentrates often suppress symptoms or even reverse them in some cases. Some research has shown that highly concentrated marijuana oil can kill cancer cells, while anecdotal evidence shows that similar products can suppress seizures and tremors in those not helped by traditional pharmaceutical options.

In order to allow some people with severe conditions the chance to treat themselves, Tennessee lawmakers created and passed SB 280 in 2015. This bill creates an exemption to state criminal law for drugs for people who meet certain requirements. Unfortunately, this bill neither created a medical marijuana system for the state or a legal means of obtaining marijuana extracts. That leaves many people with medical conditions or sick family members in a legally precarious position.

Both the marijuana and the recommendation come from elsewhere

Under the current law in Tennessee, the only legal way for someone to possess marijuana for medical purposes is to buy it in another state. However, people can't just drive or fly to another state and bring back marijuana. The law requires that the marijuana user also obtain a doctor's recommendation or order for marijuana. That person can then legally possess professionally made and labeled marijuana extracts purchased in that state.

The marijuana extract must have a label that shows it contains no more than 0.9 percent THC. There is no limit for the amount of CBD the product can contain. Unfortunately, any attempt to travel with marijuana, even if a patient meets these criteria, is a violation of federal law that could result in prosecution.

You can't bring marijuana across state lines legally

Marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States. You violate federal law when you intentionally transport any kind of marijuana across state lines. While possessing it may be legal in the state of origin, the process of transporting it back home to Tennessee leaves you open to serious criminal charges.

While there have been some widely-publicized stories about marijuana users traveling on airplanes from one state with adult recreational or medical legalization to another with a similar law, there is always potential for arrest, detention or confiscation of the marijuana if you try to board a plane with it. Even with a doctor's recommendation, you could face legal issues.

Attempting ground travel with marijuana could pose even more legal issues. Depending on the state where you source the marijuana, you could have to travel through several states that don't recognize your claim to medical use. If you're bringing enough marijuana extract to last for several months or longer, there is potential for serious state or federal criminal charges.

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Houston & Alexander, PLLC
3417 Dayton Blvd
Chattanooga, TN 37415

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Phone: 423-933-1972
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