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When Does a Misdemeanor Become a Felony in a Marijuana Charge?


It can be scary if you are arrested for a marijuana-related crime, especially if it's the first time. If you are unaware of how drug charges work, you may be concerned you will be charged with a felony.

While it is possible to be charged with a felony for a marijuana-related crime, the degree of the charge depends entirely on how the drug's intended use is interpreted. 

For instance, a ½ ounce or less is considered a possession charge, which is a misdemeanor. First offenses come with a possible jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $250 or $500, depending on if it is a first or subsequent offense. These fines are mandatory, but jail time is not.

Possession of paraphernalia and hash and concentrates are also considered misdemeanors. Both come with a maximum fine of $2,500. A jail sentence for possession of paraphernalia can be up to one year, and up to 11 months for possession of hash and concentrates.

Marijuana felonies

What classifies a marijuana charge as a felony is intent. If they believe you are intending to sell the marijuana, it is a felony. Tennessee law considers intent to sell as the possession of any amount of marijuana over a ½ ounce.

Potential penalties for sale charges are as follows:

  • ½ oz to 10 lbs: one to six years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
  • 10 to 70 lbs: two to 12 years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines
  • 70 to 300 lbs: eight to 30 years in jail and up to $100,000 in fines
  • More than 300 lbs: 15 to 60 years in jail and up to $200,000 in fines

All cultivation charges are felonies and come with similar possible jail sentences and fines as sale charges. For hash and concentrates, it is only a felony if they have a reason to believe you were manufacturing, delivering or selling those items. The same goes for paraphernalia - it is only a felony if they believe you were intending to sell.

It could be helpful to seek proper representation if you are charged with a marijuana-related crime, as a criminal defense attorney can help argue and prove your intent. Discuss your options with a professional to see whether or not this is a possibility for your case.