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Anderson County criminal defense attorney for marijuana possessionThere are currently 36 states in this country that have passed laws that regulate cannabis for medical use. Tennessee is not included in that list of states, and a bill that would have decriminalized medical marijuana was narrowly defeated – 9 to 8 – by a Tennessee House committee last week. If passed, the law would have allowed people with certain medical conditions, upon approval by their doctor, to possess a limited amount of marijuana products without being charged for drug possession. The lawmakers who sponsored the bill say they are not giving up, despite statements by Gov. Bill Lee that he is opposed to any cannabis legalization, including for medical use.

Tennessee Marijuana Laws

According to polls conducted in the state, more than 80 percent of Tennessee voters support the right for patients and their doctors to be able to decide if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment. Despite that overwhelming support, marijuana use remains illegal for both medical use and recreational use in the state.

Possession of any amount of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor in the state. A conviction can mean up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. In 2016, both Memphis and Nashville passed local ordinances that gave law enforcement the discretion to charge a person with a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor if they had a small amount of marijuana on them. The then-governor and state legislators quickly passed a law that repealed those ordinances.

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Blount County criminal defense attorney drug crimes

In the past decade, the legal restrictions surrounding marijuana have shifted on a state-by-state basis. These variations of the law include the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes as well as the decriminalization of marijuana for those who have previously faced charges. Depending on where you live, you may have free reign, or you could still face stiff restrictions for drug possession. Tennessee is one of seven states that is still standing as a stronghold against all forms of legalization. One state senator, however, is using her voice to stand up for those who are in need of the benefits of medical marijuana.

State Senator Advocates for the Sick

As Tennessee’s surrounding states begin to loosen their marijuana regulations, many Tennesseans are wondering when their state will follow suit. Republican State Senator Janice Bowling has supported the movement to legalize medical marijuana for years, and she intends on taking action again this winter. According to reports from WREG, Sen. Bowling plans on introducing a new medical marijuana bill when lawmakers reconvene at the start of the new year. 

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Knox County criminal defense attorney drug charges

Drug use often begins as a party tool at a young age and quickly transitions into full force addiction as time goes by. As of late, Tennessee’s district attorneys general have recognized the danger of fentanyl along with its recent resurgence in popularity, and are taking action to educate teens about this illegal substance. Because some controlled substances are more potent and dangerous than others, Tennessee divides these drugs into categories known as schedules, each of which increases in the severity of charge and consequence. Since many teens are unaware of the physical and legal consequences of fentanyl, a high number of Tennessee minors are getting involved with this substance and facing criminal drug charges as a result.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is steadily climbing its way to becoming the most dangerous drug in America. The United States has seen a significant rise in opioid usage, known as the opioid epidemic, and Tennessee is no exception. According to a report in The Tennessean, over 9,100 people in Tennessee have died of drug overdoses between 2013 and 2018, and over 70 percent of these deaths were partially caused by opioids, including fentanyl. 

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Anderson County drug crimes attorney marijuana

Many states have made the transition to legalize marijuana in one form or another. States such as Colorado have taken a more liberal approach, legalizing all forms of the drug, while others only allow their residents to consume the drugs for medical purposes. Tennessee is one of the most conservative states when it comes to cannabis, with all forms remaining illegal. The state divides drugs into categories known as schedules, and marijuana is a Schedule I drug. Substances that fall under this schedule are always illegal, even medically. In order to legalize marijuana in any form, it would need to be moved to a lower category, thus decriminalizing it. Although this may seem out of reach, Tennessee lawmakers may be taking steps in this direction, which would change how drug crimes are charged in the state.

A Groundbreaking Bill

Many states have recognized the benefits of legalizing marijuana for those who need it medically. By allowing citizens to obtain a medical marijuana card after receiving a doctor’s prescription, they can purchase cannabis to be used for health purposes. In early March, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill in the state Senate to legalize medical marijuana with existent restrictions. If enacted into law, the bill would allow Tennesseans to legally purchase cannabis lotions, oils, and pills for medical use with a doctor’s approval. However, vapes, edibles, and joints would not be considered a legal form for medical purposes.

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Union County drug charges defense attorney

State policies regarding marijuana have been under deliberation throughout the United States for the past decade. With many states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use, Tennessee is one of the few states that has made little progress on the matter, aside from its farming population. In 2018, the hemp growing industry was legalized federally, meaning licensed farmers can grow this crop. Opening up this industry to Tennessee farmers has made the state one of the leading producers in the country. According to a USA Today report, Tennessee has seen a 1,581 percent increase of hemp farmers throughout the state, with 3,800 registered growers as of November 1, 2019. These farmers are licensed to grow up to 51,000 acres of hemp throughout Tennessee, which equates to approximately 10 percent of all of the licensed acreage in the United States. New federal regulations have been released for those participating in the 2020 planting season, and with Tennessee’s high percentage of participation, it is important that state farmers and consumers understand the rules being established to avoid facing drug charges.

Details of the Regulations

On Oct. 31, 2019, the USDA released draft regulations that apply to hemp farmers nationwide. These changes focus specifically on the testing protocols used for the crop. Farmers may be able to grow the same plant that produces marijuana; however, regulations remain in place to limit the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in the plant. THC is the psychoactive component found in hemp that causes the “high” that legislators continue to ban in Tennessee. According to these recent regulations, farmers will be deemed negligent if the THC content present in their crops reaches 0.5 percent, since the legal limit is 0.3 percent. If these crops continue to reach higher levels of concentration for multiple years, the grower risks having his or her license suspended. These “draft rules” will act as a guide for the 2020 growing season, and the final rules will be established in November 2021.

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