Tennessee Remains Steadfast As Marijuana Decriminalization Gains Ground In Other States
Why you need a skilled attorney to fight a marijuana possession charge in Tennessee
According to various national opinion polls, as well as a survey of current and pending state laws, the marijuana decriminalization movement in the United States continues to gain momentum. Whether by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, permitting it to be used for medical purposes, or by legalizing recreational use and possession, nearly half of all fifty states have already relaxed their laws to some extent, and a number of those states remaining are actively engaging in legislative efforts to follow suit in the near future.
Tennessee, however, is not one of those states. A recent bill which would have allowed medical use of marijuana within the state failed to make it past a committee vote, and observers report that another attempt at decriminalization is not yet forthcoming. In the meantime, Tennessee law enforcement aggressively pursues and prosecutes even the most minor of drug offenses to the full extent permitted under Tennessee law.
These offenses include:
- Possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less is a misdemeanor which can result in a first time offender being sentenced to up to a year in jail and a mandatory $250 fine.
- Repeat offenders face increased penalties for simple possession. The fine increases to $500 upon a second offense; a third offense is a felony carrying with it a jail sentence of up to 6 years and a $1,000 fine.
- Possession of more than a half-ounce of marijuana can result in a charge of intent to distribute, cultivation or sale—all felonies. This includes a casual exchange (an exchange without payment) of more than a half-ounce of marijuana.
- The sale of any amount of marijuana to a minor is a felony in Tennessee, resulting in increased sentencing guidelines. Sale to a minor within 1,000 feet of a school will further increase a jail sentence.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia may result in a separate misdemeanor charge. In Tennessee, drug paraphernalia is loosely defined as an item used to somehow grow, process, store, sell, or use marijuana. The sale and manufacture of drug paraphernalia is a felony.
- Finally, Tennessee is one of the few remaining states with a tax stamp law. Individuals who are convicted of marijuana possession are liable for unpaid taxes.
In addition to these penalties, having even a misdemeanor drug conviction on your public criminal record can have a far-reaching, negative impact on your future, serving to limit or deny you access to many different types of educational and employment opportunities—in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Whether you have been charged with marijuana possession in Tennessee due to a lapse in judgment or to circumstances beyond your control, working to resolve your case without the help of an experienced Murfreesboro marijuana lawyer can be a very bad idea. For more than forty years, the attorneys of Kidwell, South, Beasley and Haley have successfully represented people who have been charged under Tennessee’s harsh anti-marijuana laws. Contact us today – online or at 615-893-1331 for a free initial consultation.