Belmares Law, PLLC
Dickson Criminal Defense Lawyer

Tennessee challenged as the Midwest legalizes cannabis

With a ferry over the Ohio River and an eastbound drive on Interstate 24, it’s about 3 hours from Cave in Rock, Illinois, to Nashville. Beginning in 2020, only a 3-hour road trip will separate legal recreational marijuana from Music City USA.

Tennessee police and prosecutors are now gearing up for the imminent challenge of being that close to a legal-cannabis state.

Illinois weed in Tennessee could be a federal case

Cannabis remains illegal Tennessee. The state recognizes no medical marijuana prescriptions and is unlikely to legalize weed anytime soon.

But marijuana is also against federal law everywhere in the US although, thus far, the federal government has tolerated states liberalizing their cannabis laws.

The feds usually prosecute marijuana violations only in places under direct federal authority or administration, such as National Parks, reservations, military bases, airline flights, federal prisons and federal courthouses.

The U.S. mail and international and interstate traffic are also under direct federal authority, so unless your cannabis is Tennessee grown, it just might become a federal case.

The most likely way Tennessee weed would become a federal case would be when the crime bares the hallmarks of a significant criminal conspiracy. A huge quantity of cannabis might suggest the possibility of, for example, racketeering activities such as money laundering, bribery and others. (Tennessee also has its own gang-related racketeering laws.)

Playing it straight and getting an attorney

For practical, political and statutory reasons, harsh sentences for small quantities of weed are becoming less common. Then again, the ready, legal, recreational supply in nearby states is making large quantities easier to come by.

News reports and press releases from the Tennessee Highway Patrol about large drug busts by Interdiction Plus Units sometimes detail the erratic driving, minor seatbelt violations, strange behavior, permission to search and unsolicited confessions that frequently result in huge drug busts on Tennessee roads. Similar patterns have been known to result in arrests at airports.

Suspects who simply remain quiet and calm and who ask to have an attorney present during questioning are more likely to best have charges dropped, sentences reduced, and their cases kept out of federal court.

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