The country’s laws about marijuana are changing. States like Colorado and California have legalized the drug. Though Tennessee lawmakers have introduced bills that would legalize marijuana for medical use, no bills have become law. Marijuana is still illegal for recreational and medicinal use, and possessing and growing the drug is not legal either.

If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, you should know what to expect and the potential consequences.

Possession of less than half an ounce

For possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, you face a possible misdemeanor charge. This could mean up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. However, if you are a first-time offender, you might be eligible for probation. The minimum fine for a first-time offender is $250. If you decide to pursue probation, you may want to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer understands the court system and can argue on your behalf.

Repeated possession charges

For a second possession charge, you must pay at least $500 if convicted. You also face possible jail time. For anyone facing more than two marijuana possession convictions, the crime is charged as felony. If convicted, your fine will be at least $1,000.

Possession of more than half an ounce

Possession of more than half an ounce will also be charged as felony. For those possessing half ounce to 10 pounds of marijuana, you may face from one to six years in jail with fines up to $5,000. Those charged with possessing more than 10 pounds and less than 70 pounds are also charged with a felony, which means from two to twelve years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Possible federal charges

Increased weight of confiscated marijuana means increased potential punishments. If the amount of marijuana seized is extremely large, federal law enforcement may decide to pursue charges as well.

Even possessing a small amount of marijuana is treated seriously in Tennessee. Knowing the potential consequences and understanding your rights may help you protect yourself from unfair prosecution.