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Medical Marijuana in Tennessee: Understanding the Benefits and Risks

History of Medical Marijuana in Tennessee

Tennessee has a complicated history with marijuana. In 2014, the state government passed a law that allowed for the use of CBD oil for medical purposes. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that the state legalized medical marijuana for patients with specific conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy.

The Compassionate Care Act

The 2018 law, known as the Compassionate Care Act, created the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission. The commission is responsible for overseeing the state’s medical marijuana program, including the licensing of dispensaries and cultivation facilities.

Challenges for Patients

Despite the legalization of medical marijuana, patients in Tennessee still face significant challenges when trying to access it. For example, the law requires doctors to have a special license to recommend medical marijuana, which can limit the number of physicians who can prescribe it. Additionally, there is a limit on the amount of THC that can be in medical marijuana products, which can make it less effective for some patients.

The Benefits of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been shown to have several benefits for patients with certain medical conditions. Here are a few examples:

Pain Relief

One of the most common uses of medical marijuana is for pain relief. Marijuana contains compounds, such as THC and CBD, that can help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. This makes it a useful treatment for conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.

Anxiety and Depression

Medical marijuana can also be used to treat anxiety and depression. THC can help reduce anxiety and improve mood, while CBD has been shown to have antidepressant effects. This makes medical marijuana a promising treatment option for patients with these conditions.

Nausea and Vomiting

Medical marijuana can help reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments. THC is thought to be the compound responsible for these effects, as it can help stimulate appetite and reduce nausea.

The Risks of Medical Marijuana

While medical marijuana can provide many benefits, it is not without its risks. Here are a few things to keep in mind:


Marijuana can be addictive for some people, and regular use can lead to dependence. This is especially true for individuals who use marijuana at a young age or who use it frequently. It’s important to be aware of the potential for addiction when using medical marijuana.

Impaired Driving

Marijuana can impair your ability to drive, just like alcohol. If you are using medical marijuana, it’s important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence.

Mental Health Effects

Marijuana can have negative effects on mental health, especially in individuals who are predisposed to certain conditions such as schizophrenia. It’s important to discuss any mental health concerns with your doctor before using medical marijuana.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Tennessee

If you live in Tennessee and have a qualifying medical condition, you may be able to get a medical marijuana card. Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

Step 1: Find a doctor who is licensed to recommend medical marijuana.

Not all doctors can recommend medical marijuana in Tennessee. You’ll need to find a doctor who has a special license to do so.

Step 2: Get a diagnosis for a qualifying condition.

To qualify for medical marijuana in Tennessee, you’ll need to have a diagnosis for a qualifying medical condition, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or epilepsy.

Step 3: Apply for a medical marijuana card through the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission.

Once you have a diagnosis and a doctor’s recommendation, you can apply for a medical marijuana card through the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission. The application process can take several weeks, so be patient.


Medical marijuana can provide many benefits for patients with certain medical conditions. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks and to use it responsibly. If you live in Tennessee and are interested in using medical marijuana, talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

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