Tennessee Cannabis Law

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A Guide to Tennessee Cannabis Laws

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.

Medical marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, so there are no taxes for it.

Cannabis, for both medical and recreational uses, is not legal in Tennessee. However, there is an exception that allows the use of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oil for seizure patients.

Possession and cultivation both remain illegal. Possession of any amount is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. Cultivation of 10 plants or less is a felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, and the penalties increase significantly for each additional plant being grown.

In Tennessee, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI substance, which means that it has a low potential for dependency or abuse. However, despite this classification, Tennessee has not legalized marijuana for medical purposes (other than low-THC cannabidiol, or CBD oil, prescribed by a doctor for an approved medical condition), and imposes harsh penalties for marijuana possession, use, and sales.

Simple Marijuana Possession and “Casual Exchange” in Tennessee

  • It is a crime to possess marijuana in Tennessee. It is also illegal to “causally exchange” (that is, to give away or sell) up to and including one half of an ounce of marijuana. Penalties vary according to the conviction, and increased penalties apply to offenses involving a minor. In addition to the penalties described below, a judge may order the defendant to participate (at defendant’s expense) in a drug offender school, perform community service hours, or both.
  • Simple possession of marijuana or exchanging up to and including one half of ounce of marijuana (with or without payment), is a Class A misdemeanor. For a first conviction, penalties include up to a year in jail, a fine of up at least $250 and as much as $2,500, or both. The same potential penalties apply for a second conviction, except that the minimum fine is $500. And for a third conviction, the minimum fine rises to $1,000. In addition, a judge may order the defendant to participate (at defendant’s expense) in a drug offender school, perform community service hours, or both.

Tennessee Stamp Taxes

  • A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.
  • In Tennessee, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into Tennessee are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($3.50 for each gram or portion of a gram of marijuana, or $350 per marijuana plant).

How Do I Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Tennessee?

To qualify for a medical marijuana card and legally possess medical marijuana oil with up to 0.9% THC in Tennessee, you will need to meet the following qualifications:

  • Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
  • Have an official certification from a certified Tennessee doctor
  • Be a Tennessee resident with proof of residency (valid Tennessee driver’s license or state ID card)

Which Conditions Qualify for a Tennessee Medical Marijuana Card?

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cancer, when such disease is diagnosed as end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea and vomiting, or pain
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Epilepsy or other seizures
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Sickle cell disease

Are CBD products legal in Tennessee?

  • Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC.
  • Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.

Is weed legal in Tennessee?

  • Adult-use (recreational) weed is illegal. Cannabidiol (CBD) products containing less than 0.9% THC are legal for the treatment of intractable seizures

Is medical marijuana legal in Tennessee?

  • Medical marijuana laws are very limited in Tennessee despite efforts in 2020 to put a legalization bill on the general election ballot. The one exception is for cannabidiol (CBD) products containing less than 0.9% THC for the treatment of intractable seizures, permitted by a 2015 law signed by Governor Bill Haslam. Medical cannabis treatment is only allowed in CBD oil form.

Purchasing cannabis in Tennessee

  • CBD oil must be acquired legally in the US and outside of Tennessee. It must have a manufacturer’s label that says the product contains less than 0.9% THC. Purchasers must be able to show proof of legal purchase

Are dabs a felony in Tennessee?

  • TN Code § 39-17-418 (2019) states that possession of 14.175 grams of marijuana (or concentrates, presumably) or less is a misdemeanor for the first offense. Subsequent offenses would be considered felonies as would any amount greater than 14.175 grams. That said, we are not attorneys. Please consult one for specific cases.

Will Tennessee impose a residency requirement for cannabis licensees?

  • Many states only issue cannabis licenses to companies with majority ownership attributable to in-state residents. Whether these residency requirements pass muster under the U.S. Constitution is far from clear (as we’ve written about here).

Tennessee Laws and Penalties

Tennessee Laws and Penalties   
OffensePenaltyIncarcerationMax. Fine
1/2 oz or less (first offense)Misdemeanor1 year$250
1/2 oz or less (subsequent offense)Misdemeanor1 year$500
Fines for possession are mandatory.   
1/2 oz – 10 lbsFelony1 – 6 years$5,000
10 – 70 lbsFelony2 – 12 years$50,000
70 – 300 lbsFelony8 – 30 years$10,000
More than 300 lbsFelony15 – 60 years$200,000
Includes possession with intent to distribute.   
Subsequent offense carries higher penalty.   
10 plants or lessFelony1 – 6 years$5,000
10 – 19 plantsFelony2 – 12 years$50,000
20 – 99 plantsFelony3 – 15 years$100,000
100 – 499 plantsFelony8 – 30 years$200,000
More than 500 plantsFelony15 – 60 years$500,000
Subsequent offense carries higher penalty.   
Hash & Concentrates   
PossessionMisdemeanor11 months$2,500
Manufacture, deliver, or sell less than 2 lbsFelony6 years$5,000
Manufacture, deliver, or sell 2 – 4 lbsFelony12 years$50,000
Manufacture, deliver, or sell 4 – 8 lbsFelony15 years$100,000
Manufacture, deliver, or sell 8 – 15 lbsFelony30 years$200,000
Manufacture, deliver, or sell more than 15 lbsFelony60 years$500,000
Possession of paraphernaliaMisdemeanor1 year$2,500
Sale of paraphernaliaFelony1 – 6 years$3,000
Falsification of drug testsMisdemeanor1 year$2,500

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