Marijuana has been in the news a lot recently, with the decision to legalize possession of small amounts of the drug in Colorado and Washington and the ongoing push to increase the use of medical marijuana in other states. Though there have been significant legal changes in other states, law enforcement officials here in Tennessee will still arrest and prosecute individuals for even small amounts of marijuana possession.
How does Tennessee law view marijuana?
In Tennessee, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI substance, which means that it has a low potential for dependency or abuse. However, despite this classification, Tennessee has not legalized marijuana for medical purposes and imposes relatively harsh penalties for marijuana possession, use, and sale.
Possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less is a Class A misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. First offenses bring with them a minimum fine of $250, while a second conviction includes a fine of at least $500. Those convicted a third time will be charged with a Class E felony, which carries a punishment of between one and six years in prison and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
The sale or possession with the intent to distribute of between a half-ounce of marijuana and 10 pounds of marijuana is a Class E felony punishable with between one and six years incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. The punishment increases steeply for any amounts greater than 10 pounds, both in terms of jail time and fines. Big time drug dealers face decades in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
An important side note, those who are found to have sold marijuana to minors face an increase in the grade of the offense and harsher sentencing. Even stiffer penalties are handed down to those found to be selling marijuana to minors within 1,000 feet of a school.
Finally, Tennessee law also punishes those who cultivate marijuana. This means if you’re growing pot plants for yourself or others you better be aware that you face very stiff punishment if caught. In fact, Tennessee law says that the cultivation of 10 plants or less is a Class E felony and can lead to incarceration of between one and six years, and will bring a fine of up to $5,000.
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