Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. 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 harsh penalties for marijuana possession, use, and sales. (Tennessee Code Ann. § 3719.41.) While not covered in this article, it is a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in Tennessee.
For information about charges and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in Tennessee, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Tennessee.
Marijuana Possession and Casual Exchange
It is a crime to possess marijuana in Tennessee. It is also illegal to causally exchange (that is, with no payment) up to and including one half of an ounce of marijuana. Penalties vary according to the conviction, and increased penalties apply to offenses involving a minor. In addition to the penalties described below, a judge may order the defendant to participate (at defendant’s expense) in a drug offender school, perform community service hours, or both. (Tennessee Code Ann. § 39-27-418.)
- Possession or casual exchange (first and second convictions). Possessing any amount of marijuana, or exchanging up to and including one half of ounce of marijuana (without payment), is a misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
- Third and subsequent convictions. When the defendant has two or more prior possession or casual exchange convictions, the offense is treated as a felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, between one and six years in prison, or both.
Cultivation and Sales
It is illegal to cultivate or sell marijuana (or possess marijuana with the intent to do so) in Tennessee. Penalties vary according to the amount cultivated or sold, with increased penalties for sales to a minor or within a drug free school zone. (Tennessee Code Ann. § 2925.04.)
- Up to and including one half of an ounce. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
- More than one half ounce, but less than ten pounds . Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, between one and six years in prison, or both.
- Ten pounds or more, but less than 70 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, between two and 12 years in prison, or both.
- 70 pounds or more, but less than 300 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $200,000, between eight and 30 years in prison, or both.
- 300 pounds or more. Penalties include a fine of up to $500,000, between 15 and 60 years in prison, or both.
It is illegal in Tennessee to manufacture, sell, or use drug paraphernalia (or possess paraphernalia with the intent to do so). Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Penalties for possession include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. Selling paraphernalia may be punished with a fine of up to $3,000, between one and six years in prison, or both. (Tennessee Code Ann. § 39-17-425.)
To learn more about Tennessee drug laws, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in Tennessee.
A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.
In Tennessee, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into Tennessee are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($3.50 for each gram or portion of a gram). (Tennessee Code Ann. § 67-4-2803.)
Look up common crimes and their penalties by state.
The Value of Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.