Earlier this year in Clarksville, Tennessee, a state trooper pulled over a 1999 Mercury Grand Marquee for speeding. At the stop, the trooper noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the car. When questioned, the driver admitted to having smoked a small amount of marijuana while in the car. The trooper conducted a K-9 search around the outside of the vehicle, and the dog indicated there was marijuana in the vehicle's trunk. Troopers ultimately found seven pounds of marijuana, and the three men in the vehicle were charged with marijuana possession and intent to deliver a felony charge.
Marijuana Possession and Distribution Penalties
Tennessee classifies drug crimes according to the drug's potential for addiction and its harm to people and society. Marijuana is a schedule VI drug crime. While casual possession is a Class A misdemeanor (possession of less than .5 ounces, carrying up to a $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail), the penalties ramp up according to how much marijuana is in the possession of the accused:
- Possession of anywhere from .5 ounces to 10 pounds is a Class E felony, with one to six years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines
- From 10-70 lbs., two to 12 years in prison, and up to $50,000 in fines
- From 70-300 lbs., eight to 30 years in prison, and up to $200,000 in fines
- More than 300 lbs. is 15-60 years and up to $500,000 in fines
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
A law enforcement official must have a reason to pull over a vehicle and conduct a search for illegal contraband. In the instance above, the vehicle was speeding and there was a smell of marijuana in the car. In addition, the driver admitted to using the drug. However, there are cases where the traffic stop may violate the driver's constitutional rights, and the prosecution cannot use evidence obtained unconstitutionally.
An experienced attorney can analyze your case to determine if the officer had cause to pull you over, or if any of your rights have been violated. If you have been arrested on a drug possession or distribution charge, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.