Nashville’s DA announced it’s no longer planning to prosecute minor marijuana cases, and Memphis has already started working again toward similar municipal decriminalization legislation. With the two largest cities in Tennessee working to ignore or change marijuana laws, it’d be easy to forget that marijuana is still wholly illegal in Tennessee. The issue is not an easy one for many states, and Tennessee is one of six states still struggling with how to handle the public clamor for legalization. It’s becoming increasingly apparent many hope the state will follow many of its neighbors by passing statewide decriminalization legislation this year. Until then, it’s important to remember that until lawmakers are able to finalize and successfully vote through these changes, marijuana possession can get you in trouble in Tennessee.
Tennessee Marijuana Laws
While the Nashville District Attorney has stated it's no longer planning to prosecute minor marijuana cases, Marijuana possession is still a crime in Tennessee. The act of sharing or selling small amounts (half an ounce or less) of marijuana, known as a causal exchange, is also illegal.
Both offenses carry fines and penalties. Simple possession of marijuana carries fines and penalties that vary according to the charges you face.
Penalties for Simple Possession
According to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-418, offenders for simple possession face:
- Simple possession is a class A misdemeanor for first and second offenses.
- A third offense can be a misdemeanor or a Class E felony, depending on the amount and priors
- The charge carries jail time up to 11 months and 29 days
Fines for Simple Possession
If charged with simple possession, you could face fines and court fees:
- $250.00 minimum 1st offense
- $500.00 minimum 2nd offense
- $1,000.00 minimum 3rd offense
Decriminalization Doesn’t Mean Legal
Decriminalization isn’t the same thing as legal. Let’s let that sink in and think about what it means. Marijuana is still a controlled substance in Tennessee. If you are caught with marijuana and the DA decides to prosecute, you could face fines and penalties just as you usually would for other controlled substances. So, what does decriminalization even mean? While legalization and decriminalization seem like they would have similar meanings, from a legal perspective, they are very different. Decriminalization removes many of the criminal punishments associated with an action or behavior. So, in a decriminalized status, marijuana remains illegal, but the local and state legal systems would refrain from prosecuting acts below a targeted possession weight. Penalties under decriminalization could range on a spectrum from no penalties or fines to drug treatment.
Get Help With Your Simple Possession Charges in Clarksville
Decriminalization of marijuana in two of the largest cities in the state isn’t the same as legalization. Even in an environment where marijuana is decriminalized, you could still face consequences that can complicate your life and possibly derail your plans. If you are facing possession charges, the lawyers at Patton & Pittman Attorneys can sit with you and help create a strategy for your case. Call our offices now at (931) 361-4477 to schedule a consultation.