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Tennessee Drug Laws & Penalties: Marijuana

Weed or Cannabis Is an Illegal Substance in Tennessee

As of 2024, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in Tennessee, and the law classifies marijuana as a Schedule VI controlled substance (see Tennessee Code § 39-17-417). Controlled substances on the Schedule VI level refer to substances that have a low potential for abuse or dependency. Despite its low risk for abuse, marijuana has not been legalized for medical or recreational use.

Penalties for Possession, Sale, & Cultivation of Marijuana

When it comes to cannabis-related offenses in Tennessee, the penalties can be severe and life-altering. The classification of an offense can vary based on the amount of marijuana involved in the alleged crime.

The penalties for possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or selling marijuana include the following:

  • Possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or selling half an ounce or less of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of no more than $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail. However, second-time offenders can have an increased fine opposed on them, and third and subsequent offenses can be enhanced to a Class E felony.
  • Possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or selling half an ounce to 10 pounds of marijuana is a Class E felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and/or imprisonment for one to six years.
  • Possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or selling 20 to 99 marijuana plants is considered a Class C felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or three to 15 years in prison.

Distinction Between CBD, Hemp, & Marijuana

Understanding the legal distinctions between CBD, hemp, and marijuana is crucial in Tennessee, where the laws governing each substance differ significantly. The distinction between these hinges on the concentration of a psychoactive compound called THC:

  • Hemp refers to strains of the cannabis plant that have a THC content of 0.3% or less, measured on a dry weight basis.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) refers to the non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, including hemp. CBD products are legal in Tennessee as long as they are derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp products contain high amounts of CBD rather than THC (i.e. tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis plants).
  • Marijuana refers to cannabis plants with THC levels exceeding 0.3%.

Cultivating Hemp Is Legally Allowable

The cultivation of hemp is legal under both federal and Tennessee law. Courts in Tennessee rely on tests conducted by crime labs, like the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. These labs utilize a multi-step process to determine the exact amount of THC versus CBD in a substance.

Aggressive Defense in Drug Crime Cases

Whether you're seeking guidance on medical marijuana regulations, facing charges related to cannabis possession, or simply looking for clarity on the current legal status of cannabis in Tennessee, our experienced team is here to help. Backed by over 55 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Eldridge and Cravens, PC can help you develop a sound defense against marijuana-related drug charges.

When you retain our services, we can assess the strength of the prosecution's case, identifying any weaknesses in how evidence was obtained or potential violations of your rights. Even if a case dismissal isn't possible, our team can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or pursue more lenient sentences, such as probation or drug diversion programs.

Request a case consultation and learn more about how we can help you by calling (865) 544-2010.