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Are You Protected Across State Lines with a Medicinal Marijuana Card?

Posted by John C. Taylor | Jun 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

Earlier this year, Tennessee lawmakers abruptly pulled several proposals for a medical marijuana program off the table. The issue was never debated initially, and then the bill died in committee in 2020. We have yet to know what 2021 will bring and whether Tennessee will join the majority of states and launch a medical marijuana program.

While you cannot obtain a medical marijuana card in Tennessee, many other states allow you to qualify for the legal purchase and possession of marijuana products to treat certain health conditions.

This leads to the question: can an out-of-state medical marijuana card protect you from criminal consequences for drug possession in Tennessee? The short answer is no, as you must follow the laws of the state you are present in regarding marijuana possession.

You Cannot Legally Possess Marijuana in Tennessee

The only cannabis product that anyone may possess in Tennessee is low-THC, high-CBD oils for seizure patients with authority from their doctors. The possession of any other type of marijuana product is a criminal offense, as Tennessee has also not yet decriminalized marijuana possession.

Marijuana possession of one-half ounce or less is a misdemeanor in Tennessee, and the following penalties may apply:

  • First offense - Up to one year in jail and a mandatory fine of $250
  • Second offense - Up to one year in jail and a mandatory fine of $500
  • Third offense - Up to one year in jail and a mandatory fine of $1,000

The charges and potential penalties escalate considerably if you possess more than a half-ounce or if you are accused of selling or cultivating marijuana. In these situations, most people face felony charges, prison sentences, and thousands of dollars in fines.

If you are visiting Tennessee or you recently moved to our state with a medical marijuana card from another state, never assume that you can transport your marijuana and lawfully possess it within Tennessee borders. Doing so can result in an arrest, criminal charges, and a possible permanent criminal record.

Defending against Marijuana Charges

While claiming ignorance of the law will not prevent a criminal case, there are ways to defend against marijuana charges that can reduce or eliminate the penalties you face. Some common defenses include:

  • You did not know that someone else put marijuana in your car or home
  • Law enforcement officers violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful search, which discovered the marijuana
  • The prosecutor cannot prove that the substance in question is actually marijuana

While some other states will honor out-of-state medical marijuana cards, this does not apply to states without a current medical marijuana program. Your medical card will not prevent you from being arrested or charged with a serious drug crime.

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.

About the Author

John C. Taylor

John C. Taylor is a Murfreesboro native and a graduate of Oakland High School. He earned his bachelor's degree from Furman University in Greenville, SC, where he participated in the Furman Advantage Research program, studying religion in American politics. John also earned his Master's degree.


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