For the past few years, people across the United States have been constantly reading headlines about changes in marijuana laws in different states. This is for good reason - even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, many states have passed laws relaxing the policies regarding marijuana possession and use. Specifically, 15 states and the District of Columbia legalized the possession of marijuana for recreational use, and 33 states and D.C. legalized medical marijuana. These shifting tides often lead people across the U.S. to believe that marijuana possession is no longer a big deal - anywhere.
However, this is a big mistake, as many states have held firm and kept serious laws in place against the possession of marijuana for any reason. For example, in the spring of 2019, Tennessee took all possible proposals regarding medical marijuana off the table. Then, the bill went cold in the state legislature in 2020. This means that Tennessee remains as one of the 14 states that does not allow medical marijuana, and state laws are lagging far behind the rest.
What does this Mean for Tennesseans?
The only type of cannabis product that is allowed for anyone in Tennessee is oil with an extremely low to no THC content and high CBD content, which is only available to certain patients with seizure disorders who have permission from their physicians. Beyond that, it is strictly against the law to possess any type of cannabis in any quantity for any reason. You can face the following charges and penalties for possessing up to a half ounce of marijuana in Tennessee for personal use:
- Misdemeanor charge
- Up to one year in jail
- Mandatory fines of $250
The penalties can increase significantly for multiple offenses, possessing larger quantities, or selling or cultivating marijuana. If you are convicted for marijuana possession, fines are mandatory and you could very well be facing jail time.
No Decriminalization in Tennessee
Many states that have not legalized marijuana have at least decriminalized marijuana possession. This means that a first offense will not result in a criminal record or possible jail time but, instead, a civil infraction and a fine. Again, however, this is not the case in Tennessee.
In 2016, Nashville and Memphis both passed measures to decriminalize marijuana. The state government then passed a bill that effectively repealed those laws, stating that state laws and penalties for marijuana preempt any set by local governments. As of now, marijuana possession - of any quantity - remains a criminal offense in Tennessee.
We will be watching in 2021 to see if any new proposed legislature will follow the trend across the U.S. and begin relaxing marijuana laws. Until then, an arrest can lead to a serious case in criminal court.
Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.