Tennessee rules apply despite other states’ changing drug laws

Tennessee rules apply despite other states’ changing drug laws

On Behalf of | May 10, 2022 | Criminal Defense

A little over a decade ago, politicians could run for office with very few official policy stances. Just claiming to be tough on drugs was enough to get voters to back someone.

Social attitudes about drug use have changed drastically in recent years. Between an increasing body of evidence showing that prohibition policies are ineffective at reducing drug use and more states embracing medical and recreational marijuana legalization, cultural attitudes about drugs have changed substantially in the last two decades.

While the average person now has a much less negative view of social drug use, especially when it comes to marijuana, Tennessee state law still requires jail time for even possession offenses. 

Tennessee law reflects federal rules rather than progress in other states

While it would only take a few hours in the car to cross the border into Kentucky and then Illinois to make a legal marijuana purchase or even less time to go to another nearby state with legal medical marijuana, you will be at risk of state charges when you bring that marijuana back to Tennessee with you. If you get caught transporting it across state lines, you can even face federal charges.

Currently, if the police catch you in possession of marijuana in Tennessee, you will face misdemeanor charges. Even the little bit of a leftover joint at the bottom of your purse could lead to up to 11 months and 29 days in prison and a fine of as much as $2,500. If you already have two prior marijuana offenses on your record, then a possession offense will be a felony the third time the state charges you.

Those caught distributing or cultivating marijuana could face long-term incarceration if convicted of the resulting felony offenses that these actions carry. If you get caught with marijuana in Memphis or Nashville, the officer who notices the marijuana has the right to use personal discretion about whether they arrest you or not. You gamble with your freedom and your future if you hope that an officer will choose not to arrest you despite state law permitting them to do so.

Waiting for the law to catch up to social change is the best approach

Although you may think that marijuana could be a good medicine for a medical condition that you have or an alternative to alcohol for relaxing on the weekends, you take a lot of risk by trying a substance currently prohibited under state and federal law.

Understanding the rules that can lead to drug charges in Tennessee can help you avoid accidentally breaking the law. Remembering that Tennessee laws are the only ones that matter when you get arrested in Tennessee can help you make smarter personal decisions.