What's New at the TN Capitol

As cancer care professionals who experience the challenges of providing quality cancer care first-hand, TOPS members are well positioned to educate decision-makers on how coverage and reimbursement issues affect community oncology. State and federal legislation can have a significant impact on the financial viability of local cancer programs, which is why it's so important that our members make their voices heard.

In an effort to provide resources needed to effectively advocate on the issues that are important to them, our redesigned advocacy webpage features weekly legislation updates from the Tennesee General Assembly, local news, and more.

We want to hear from you! If there is a specific piece of legislation you want to know more about, an important resource we're missing, or if you want to get more involved, please contact us!

Recent Bills of Interest

SB357/HB844 Regulatory Authority Over Hemp Production
Sponsors: Sen. Southerland, Steve , Rep. Todd, Chris

: Requires the commissioner of agriculture to submit a plan to the federal government for Tennessee to have primary regulatory authority over hemp production in Tennessee, declaring the administrative framework for the plan. Defines how to obtain licensing to grow hemp, the definition of hemp, violation charges, amongst other administrative functions. Broadly captioned.

Ammendment Summary: Senate amendment 1 (004531) replaces various specific requirements for the hemp program with authorization for the commissioner of agriculture to promulgate rules for the program. This amendment specifies that rooted hemp in the possession of an unlicensed person is a violation. This amendment makes violations of this bill and any rules promulgated to effectuate this bill a Class A misdemeanor offense, if the violator had a culpable mental state higher than criminal negligence. This amendment also changes some of the terms and definitions used in this bill to reflect terms and definitions used in the federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. House amendment 1 (005773) removes the Class A misdemeanor for violations, which was added by Senate Amendment 1, specifies various requirements for the hemp program that would have been determined by rules promulgated by the commissioner of agriculture under Senate Amendment #1 and some of which were specified in the bill as introduced, and adds new requirements to the hemp program. In order to obtain and maintain a hemp license under this amendment, a person must: (1) Identify to the department of agriculture the land on which the person produces hemp in this state; (2) Submit to the department any other information prescribed by rules; (3) Consent to reasonable inspection and sampling by the department of the person's hemp crop and inventory; and (4) Not be convicted of a state or federal felony drug offense within the previous 10 years. This amendment requires the department to maintain hemp program records for at least five years. This amendment exempts common carriers from the provision that makes possession of rooted hemp without a license a violation of this bill. This amendment adds that all of the following acts are prohibited: (1) Possession of cannabis with THC concentrations greater than 0.3% on a dry weight basis; (2) Failure to pay upon reasonable notice any license, sampling, or inspection fee assessed by the department; (3) Violation of this bill, or any rule promulgated under this bill; and (4) Willful hindrance of the commissioner or the commissioner's authorized agent in performance of their official duties. Negligent violations of this bill will continue to be subject to administrative action, rather than criminal prosecution. In cases of negligent violations, this amendment authorizes the department to deny or revoke a hemp producer's license; issue a stop movement order, destruction order, and civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation; and initiate legal actions for injunctions. If the department determines that a person commits a violation with a culpable mental state greater than negligence, this amendment requires the department to report the matter to the TBI and the United States attorney general. This amendment creates a legal presumption that, in all proceedings brought to enforce this bill, proof of testing showing THC concentrations greater than 0.3%, but not greater than 1.0%, on a dry weight basis is prima facie evidence of a negligent violation of this part. Additionally, this amendment creates a legal presumption that the following are prima facie evidence of violation with a culpable mental state greater than negligence: (1) Proof of testing consistent with rules promulgated under this part showing THC concentrations greater than 1.0% on a dry weight basis; (2) Three violations within a five-year period for possession of rooted hemp without a valid license issued by the department; or (3) Violation of any stop movement or destruction order issued under this bill. Any person whose license is revoked for violation of this bill or rules promulgated under this bill is ineligible for reissuance of the license for a period of at least five years. This amendment specifies certain powers that the commissioner will have concerning the hemp regulatory program. The full text of this amendment specifies certain responsibilities that the department of agriculture will have concerning inspection of hemp producers and testing hemp produced in this state and hemp products distributed in this state for THC concentrations. This amendment specifies that this bill does not exempt any person from complying with laws and rules pertaining to food safety, animal feed, agricultural seeds, and any other subjects applicable to hemp uses. House Amendment 2 (006390) deletes the provision of the bill as amended by amendment 005773 that makes all rules and regulations around industrial hemp null and void as of July 1, 2019, and replaces it with language stating the rules currently promulgated before July 1, 2019 will become null and void upon rules and regulations promulgated to effectuate this proposed legislation.

Senate Status
: 03/28/19 - Senate concurred in House amendment 1 (005773) and House amendment 2 (006390)
House Status: 03/25/19 - House passed with amendment 1 (005773) and amendment 2 (006390)
Executive Status: 04/04/19 - Signed by governor

SB486/HB637 Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act 
Sponsors: Sen. Bowling, Janice, Rep. Travis, Ron

: Authorizes access to medical cannabis on a regulated basis for patients with qualifying medical conditions. Licenses and regulates the processes for cultivation, production, distribution, transport, selling, and acquiring cannabis for medical use and research, with cancer, epilepsy, and HIV/AIDS among the classified qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. Prohibits a person from acquiring, possessing, or using medical cannabis without a valid cannabis card. Specifies that to obtain a medical cannabis card, a patient must be 18 years old, provide proof of residency, complete a written form, pay the $65 application fee, and submit a document of recommendation from a healthcare professional or provide medical records of the diagnosis. Requires that the department of agriculture and law enforcement have access to all patient registry, and the cards will have an expiration date of two years. Establishes the medical cannabis commission for regulation of cannabis-related health care. Outlines commission role as well as qualifications for members, allowing them to issue cannabis cards by 2020. Requires commission to make information available online and to track seed-to-sale transactions. Declares a maximum of 12 urban omni licenses available in Tennessee, with a maximum of three of these in Knox, Shelby, Hamilton, or Davidson counties. Establishes a maximum of 12 RUVI licenses available in the state and the rules of operation. Defines the process of legalizing medical marijuana in your county by a two-thirds legislative vote, and the taxation of each licensure in the state (29 pp).

Senate Status
: 02/07/19 - Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee
House Status: 02/13/19 - Referred to House Mental Health & Substance Abuse Subcommittee


Legislation Tracker


Last Updated: April 11, 2019

While in session, our bill tracker contains the most up-to-date status of more than 70 pieces of legislation focusing on Medicaid, opioid and drug use, palliative care, and more!

Fighting the Opioid Crisis

The Tennessee General Assembly is working hard to fight the opioid crisis in our state. They have proposed an ammendment to current opioid legislation (HB1831/SB2257) that will place more guidelines for and checkpoints between healthcare practitioners and patients before an individual is put on a chronic regimen of opioids. Click here to view the latest infographic and a section-by-section analysis of the current opioid legislation and proposed ammendement.

Capitol Hill Day 2019

Hill Day 2019TOPS Capitol Hill Day participants met with leadership from the Tennessee House of Representatives, including Speaker Glen Casada; Majority Leader Rep. William Lamberth; Chairman of the Facilities, Licensure & Regulation subcommittee, Rep. Kevin Vaughan; Chair Lady of the Life & Health Insurance subcommittee, Rep. Robin Smith; and Chairman of the TennCare subcommittee, Rep. Matthew Hill. In addition to meeting with important health committee leadership, TOPS members sat-in on the Life & Health subcommittee to hear legislation regarding the Tennessee Right to Shop Act.

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