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Understanding the cannabis laws in Tennessee

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | blog, Drug Crimes |

Cannabis laws in Tennessee have been a topic of ongoing debate and change in recent years. Residents and visitors should know the current regulations surrounding the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis.

Understanding these laws may help you avoid significant fines and other penalties for cannabis possession.

Limited and specific medical use

Tennessee allows the use of cannabis products strictly for medical purposes. However, the range of qualifying conditions is relatively narrow and includes:

  • Severe, debilitating disease
  • Intractable seizures
  • Epilepsy

Patients who qualify can obtain highly-regulated cannabis products with low levels of THC, the plant’s psychoactive compound.

Strictly prohibited recreational use

Unlike many other states, Tennessee does not permit the recreational use of cannabis. The law strictly prohibits the possession, sale or cultivation of marijuana for personal use. Even a small amount of cannabis for recreational purposes can lead to legal consequences, including fines and potential incarceration.

Penalties for possession and distribution

Possession of marijuana, even in small quantities, is a criminal offense. The severity of the punishment depends on the amount. Distributing or selling marijuana carries significant legal consequences including possible jail time. Evidence of distribution can include items like plastic bags, scales and cash.

As public opinion on cannabis laws has evolved, many state residents support legalization for both medical and recreational use. However, Tennessee’s legislative landscape has yet to reflect this shift in public sentiment. The state ranked second in the nation for the total number of cannabis arrests from 2017 to 2021. Complying with state regulations can prevent involvement with the criminal justice system.