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A quick guide to marijuana charges in Tennessee

With ever-changing laws and perceptions of marijuana, it can be difficult to understand where the law stands and how it applies to you. Tennessee has even taken steps to reduce penalties — but is it illegal still? The short answer is yes, marijuana is illegal in Tennessee.

If you want a more in-depth look at how the state of Tennessee treats marijuana, including how the House of Representatives and governor blocked decriminalization ordinances, here is an overview.

From felonies to misdemeanors

Until 2016, third and subsequent charges for marijuana possession were felonies, punishable by a $3,000 fine and one to six years imprisonment. This changed when the legislature reduced these penalties to a misdemeanor. Because of this, people who are convicted of nonviolent marijuana possession will not have to deal with a felony on their record.  

Big city ordinances 

Memphis and Nashville also passed ordinances in 2016 to give police officers the discretion to charge people possessing small amounts of marijuana with a civil infraction. However, the governor signed a repeal bill that was passed by the House of Representatives. This bill nullifies the ordinances and prevents local governments from crafting their own punishments that are inconsistent with state statutes.

Medical marijuana shot down

The state Senate failed to pass a medical marijuana bill. The legislation would have made marijuana legal for medicinal purposes. There is contention between various senators and constituents that indicates a possibility of the legislation being pursued again in the future.

Despite various attempts, all marijuana possession and use remains illegal in Tennessee. While third convictions are no longer felonies, they still come with serious misdemeanor consequences. If you are in Memphis or Nashville, you can no longer assume an officer will issue a civil infraction instead.

While the law may change in the future, this is how things stand for now. If you get charged with marijuana possession in Tennessee, contact a defense attorney immediately.

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Knoxville, TN 37902

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