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Here’s what to know about Tennessee Hemp Supply, Murfreesboro’s newest dispensary

Hemp is legal in Tennessee but not everywhere. Here are a few things to help understand hemp and its legal status.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has essentially relaxed its definition of hemp and the U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would legalize hemp farming. Is this a first step to full federal legalization of marijuana? (Photo: Thinkstock)

Tennessee Hemp Supply has opened in Murfreesboro, touting itself as being the first Tennessee-grown hemp dispensary in the state.

Just four months ago, 23 Rutherford County businesses were padlocked after being accused of selling candy containing a derivative of marijuana. The products in question contained cannabidiol, or CBD, a hemp derivative.

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s office indicted 21 people in an investigation named “Operation Candy Crush.”

With that in mind, here is everything to know about hemp and CBD.

What is industrial hemp?

Industrial hemp refers to cannabis plants that have no more than 0.3 percent of a specific type of THC on a dry mass basis.

Hemp contains low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, which is more commonly known as THC, one of the approximately 80 compounds found in the plant. THC is the compound which causes the high and psychoactive effects most people associate with marijuana.

Tennessee is one of the states in the U.S. that allows industrial hemp production.

These plants have to be certified and their origin clear, and they are licensed by the state Department of Agriculture on an annual basis.

Colleges and universities are specifically allowed to grow the plants for research purposes.

The law allowing the specific industrial hemp plants was passed in May 2017.

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Hemp and marijuana are not the same thing

Although both cannabis plants, the two do not have the same chemical makeup.

The state removed hemp from its criminal definition of marijuana in 2014.

Hemp cultivated in Tennessee by private, approved farmers must not exceed THC levels of 0.3 percent.

Is hemp legal?

Not on the federal level, but states can pass their own legislation regarding hemp.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 35 states have passed legislation regarding industrial hemp.

Because of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the U.S. is the only industrialized country to not allow commercial hemp farming on a national level. Unlike Tennessee’s criminal code, the act includes hemp in their definition of marijuana despite the difference in the plants.

The DEA still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” according to their website.

MTSU’s Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research has been studying hemp and all the ways that it can be used.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture regulates the industry

In 2014, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture became the overseer of the industrial hemp pilot program for the state. Farmers complete regular paperwork to submit to the department for them to better understand how the crop is doing. Farms are subject to regular testing of their plants to ensure the legal levels of THC are met.

The department also helps farmers legally acquire seeds and move their product by assisting them in acquiring proper DEA permits.

What is CBD?

CBD is the common abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of many chemicals found in cannabis.

In-depth study into the medical effects of any element of cannabis is lacking, and CBD is no exception.

Some small-scale studies indicate it may be useful as an anti-anxiety or anti-inflammatory supplement, but it has not been widely approved for legal consumption.

A hot-button topic for those pushing to legalize marijuana use, CBD is often touted as a “safe” alternative to illegal cannabis consumption and is often sold by adding it to beverages or food items.

Is CBD legal?

In Tennessee, CBD products are only legal with a prescription from a regulated pharmacy.

When extracted, CBD typically does not contain THC.

Opponents highlight the unregulated aspect of all other CBD products, as the origin of the cannabis, the extraction process and the amount of THC and other chemicals in the item varies widely.

Also, federal and Tennessee laws are clear that the only legal cannabis derivatives can come from industrial hemp plants.

CBD edibles can be produced without a comprehensive regulatory body, leading to worries about whether the chemical was acquired legally. Although possible to identify by testing, the origin of the CBD chemicals in the items is not always clearly labeled.

A new business has opened in Murfreesboro. It sells hemp and hemp products. ]]>