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Marijuana Possession in Tennessee: 5 Reasons It’s Still a Big Deal

Public perception of marijuana use is rapidly changing. Its prevalence as a theme or source of humor in movies and popular music, coupled with its legalization in two states now, has led many people – especially young people – to believe that it’s really no big deal.

If you’re wondering why marijuana possession in Tennessee is a big deal, you’re not alone. Earlier this year, Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, followed soon after by the State of Washington. With many more states about to address the legality of marijuana, it is easy to see why people have questions about personal use in Tennessee.

Why It’s a Big Deal

There are five things you need to keep in mind about marijuana possession (legally referred to as a Schedule VI drug) in Tennessee from a criminal lawyer’s perspective:

  1. It is completely illegal in Tennessee. The State of Tennessee does not even recognize medical marijuana use. A potential change of this law was defeated in a Tennessee House of Representatives committee earlier this year. Universities are allowed to do limited research with cannabis oils, but all other forms of marijuana are illegal for anyone to possess for any reason.
  2. It is still illegal according to federal law. The United States Government made marijuana illegal through the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. While the United States Justice Department has eased prosecution in states where recreational use has been legalized, that can quickly change. Additionally, the Justice Department has not eased prosecution guidelines in states where recreational marijuana has not been legalized, including Tennessee.
  3. You are not protected from employers. While there are sure to be challenges over time, currently, an employer can still terminate your employment for drug use, even in states where it is legal. Further, most companies have drug and alcohol policies in place that are violated by marijuana use. It is important to remember that marijuana can show up in a drug screen for up to a month (sometimes more) from the last date of use. If your employer has a “no tolerance” policy in place, don’t expect to keep your job if you test positive on a drug screen.
  4. You can be charged for DUI. In Tennessee, you can be convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-10-401). If marijuana shows up in your blood when you are arrested for DUI, that positive test can be used to show that you were driving under the influence.
  5. You can face strict criminal penalties. Even a small amount of marijuana (legally called simple possession of Schedule VI) can lead to jail time, even if it is your first arrest. Also, it only takes a small amount of marijuana (half an ounce) to be charged with a felony. There are mandatory fines and court costs, and if you are driving a car at the time of your arrest, it can also be seized.

Even though the legalization of marijuana is a national debate, it is important to understand that there are still many reasons why a possession of marijuana charge in Tennessee can impact your future.

Put Our Experience to Work for You

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Knoxville or the surrounding communities, you need an experienced defense attorney to advise you and to represent your best interests in court. Give us a call at (865) 691-2777 or contact us through our website Brown & Roberto, PLLC to set up a free consultation.

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