What Is Simple Possession in Tennessee?

According to the TBI’s website, around 80% of all crimes in Tennessee are related to drugs in some way, and drug related offenses are the 2nd most common type of crime to occur. While there are many states in the US that are working towards decriminalizing the possession and use of drugs like marijuana, Tennessee has yet to do so. Even though drug related offenses are fairly common, they carry very real consequences and you should always take them seriously.

Simple Possession

TCA § 39-17-418:

What Is Simple Possession in Tennessee?(a) It is an offense for a person to knowingly possess or casually exchange a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of professional practice.

(b) It is an offense for a person to distribute a small amount of marijuana not in excess of one-half (½) ounce (14.175 grams).

Simple Possession is the lowest drug charge in Tennessee, and is used in cases where a defendant is found with illegal drugs in their possession, but no evidence that they might be dealing, delivering, or manufacturing. There are often defenses through which you could get the charges dismissed, go through diversion programs, community service, or pay some smaller fines. Nevertheless, it is still an A class misdemeanor, and the statutory penalties of up to a year of jail time and/or a $2,500 fine are always a possibility.

It is also important to note that there are factors that could lead to more severe charges, or even multiple charges. Simple Possession/Casual Exchange is used in situations where someone is found with a small amount of drugs, and just drugs. If you were to be found with larger amounts, higher scheduled drugs, paraphernalia like scales or baggies, or if you are a repeat offender, it could mean facing felony charges as opposed to a misdemeanor. Refer to:

  • TCA § 39-17-417 – Criminal offenses and penalties
  • TCA § 39-17-425 – Unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities


TCA § 40-35-111:

(e)(1) Class A misdemeanor, not greater than eleven (11) months, twenty-nine (29) days or a fine not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or both, unless otherwise provided by statute.

If you or a loved one has been charged with possession contact Best & Brock to set up a free consultation.