Answers to your questions about Tennessee's drug laws

Whether you've been arrested and charged or not, it's wise to know what drug laws are on the books in Tennessee. Below are a few answers to common questions about the current laws.

1. Do you have to be fined for possession of marijuana?

You do. The fines are mandatory if convicted on possession charges, even if you also get jail time. For your first time with a half-ounce or less, you will get $250 in fines, and subsequent offenses will bring fines of $500.

2. Is possession a felony charge?

It is not. Many drug charges, such as possession with the intent to distribute, are felony charges. Simple possession of a half-ounce or under, though, just nets you a misdemeanor.

3. Is it a felony to grow marijuana?

It is, and this is true no matter how much you're growing. For instance, for 10 plants or fewer, you could be fined $5,000 and get one to six years behind bars. For 20 to 99 plants, the fine jumps to $100,000 and jail time ranges from three to 15 years. For 500 or more plants, the fine is $500,000 and jail time could be as long as 60 years.

4. Can you be charged just for having paraphernalia?

You can. If you simply possess it, you could face misdemeanor charges, $2,500 in fines and a year in jail. If you're selling it, you could face felony charges, $3,000 in fines and one to six years of incarceration.

No matter what charges and possible sentences you're facing, remember that you have the right to a fair trial. Be sure you understand exactly what the charges mean and the legal options you have.

Source: Norml, "Tennessee Laws & Penalties," accessed Dec. 08, 2016

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