Should marijuana be legalized in Tennessee? Lawmaker files bill to add cannabis-related questions to 2024 ballot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One Tennessee lawmaker is hoping to push the conversation around both medical and recreational cannabis on the next general election ballot. 

Rep. Jesse Chism (D—Memphis) has introduced a bill that would add three cannabis-related questions to the November 2024 election ballot. The questions would be non-binding and only serve to gauge public interest on the subjects of medical and recreational cannabis, as well as the decriminalization of some weed offenses.

The questions that would be added to the ballot are: 

  • Should the State of Tennessee legalize medical marijuana? 
  • Should the State of Tennessee decriminalize possession of less than one ounce (1 oz.) of marijuana? 
  • Should the State of Tennessee legalize and regulate commercial sales of recreational use marijuana? 

The bill further directs the Secretary of State to gather the results of the “public policy opinion poll” and send them to each member of the Tennessee General Assembly. The poll would be non-binding, according to Chism’s bill. 

Cannabis usage will be one larger topic of debate this legislative session, as multiple bills have been filed seeking to legalize weed in one way or another. Democrats have filed bills on both recreational and medical cannabis.

Rep. Bob Freeman (D—Nashville) and Sen. Heidi Campbell (D—Nashville) introduced the “Free All Cannabis for Tennesseans” or FACT Act, while Rep. Chism introduced a bill seeking to enact the “Tennessee Medical Cannabis Act.”

While Freeman and Campbell’s bill has virtually little to no chance at becoming law, Chism’s has a better shot of moving through the legislature. 

In past years, Sen. Janice Bowling (R—Tullahoma) has introduced a bill advocating for medical cannabis for certain medical conditions, but movement on the issue has been slow-going. The measure never made it out of committee on more than one occasion.