marijuana arrest
marijuana arrest

I Got Arrested Last Night For 5 Grams Of Cannabis

Governor Bill Haslams Idea of Justice In A Pot-free Tennessee

Posted by:
The Undercover Stoner on Friday Mar 31, 2017

Governor Bill Haslams Idea of Justice In A Pot-free Tennessee

Arrested for Selling 5 Grams of Weed, Now What? from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


Two nights ago I had the pleasantry of making myself acquainted with the inside of the Moore County Jail in Lynchburg, TN. My charges? Simple possession of a class VI controlled substance, (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia. 


That’s right- yours truly is now and forevermore a weed criminal.


Responding to a call of a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot, the fuzz rolled up on me while I was having a snooze after a very long twelve-hour shift. (Super suspect right?) After the rap-tap-tapping on my window roused me and I was able to shake away the cobwebs of slumber enough to explain to the two cops why I was hibernating in my vehicle I was dutifully informed that they could, in fact, detect the odor of marijuana wafting from my truck. 

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Being that I had five grams of OG Master Kush in my glovebox and my trusty pocket bong stashed on the passenger-side floor I was well aware that the inside of my car smelled like Cheech and Chong’s secret hideout, so like a truly co-operative citizen I informed them of the whereabouts of my cannabis cache, stepped out of the vehicle and allowed them to perform their legal duty un-impinged. I even casually shot the shit with the other officer, who very affably seemed to take a genuine interest in certain aspects of my life- after all, what had I to be worried about? They could see that I was not loitering about causing trouble, nor did I have the intent to distribute and the rest of my story checked out. I was confident that my weed would be confiscated and the worst I would get was a citation.

You can imagine my shock when ten minutes later they read me my rights, slapped the cuffs on and directed me to the back of the patrol vehicle.

I had been under the impression that decriminalization bills had been passed in the state allowing Tennessee law enforcement officials to use the power of discretion when it came to small amounts of cannabis.

I was wrong. 

Well, sort of wrong. Nashville and Memphis had recently passed laws that would give police the discretion to allow people caught with a small amount of marijuana to face a civil penalty instead of a misdemeanor charge. Essentially the legislation granted individual law enforcement officers the power to determine what actions, if any, should be taken for small-scale marijuana possession.


All that changed when House Bill 173 was introduced earlier this month by Representative William Lamberth. 

Lamberth revealed his intent with the introduction of Bill 173 by stating that he hoped to avoid turning the state into, “a hodgepodge of criminal laws throughout our state that no judge or individual would be able to understand or explain.”


With its passage through the Senate and the measure finding approval after landing on the desk of Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam, the issue is now clear cut as far as legislation goes.

cannabis bud

Any amount of marijuana possession in the state of Tennessee can and will result in criminal charges.

Haslam, an outspoken voice regularly making known his distaste for the decriminalization of cannabis justified his approval of the bill by saying, “I think we have enough of an issue around substance abuse now. You can debate whether it’s a gateway drug and all this. I’m not the expert. But I just don’t think it’s a helpful step for our society given the struggles we have right now with substance abuse.”


In light of the recent pro-cannabis legislations sweeping the country, Haslam’s perspective on the issue is both archaic and entrenched deep in will-full ignorance.  

Not only does his approval of the bill insult the findings of a Vanderbilt University study that revealed that 85% percent of the Tennesseans polled were found to be in favor of some form of marijuana legalization, but it is garnering critique and condemnation from both law enforcement officials and state representatives alike who are in direct opposition to the measure.



Speaking out against Haslam and the collaborating senators who voted yay on Bill 173 is Sen. Lee Harris, a Memphis Democrat.



Highlighting the Nixon-era hysteria that the bill resembles she noted that it will simply lead to more individuals arrested and incarcerated on cannabis charges. Fellow Senator Mark White further expounded those sentiments by stating that the bill would continue an unfair system for young people who may not have the same resources to combat a cannabis-related charge.


“So I think these local ordinances could put the same thing in play, where we have those who are poor and minorities getting the state fine and 11 months 29 days and those that are more affluent being let off the hook,” White said. “That’s the way it works a lot of times in our society.”


Sheriff Daron Hall of Davidson County sympathized by posing this question, “Who do you want to put in a jail cell? Do you really want the 19-year-old kid who has marijuana in the car, and at the level we are talking about, do you want him sent to jail overnight, go to court, tie up bed space, when the same kid’s mother and father has a liquor cabinet full of substances that will do far worse to you than what he had in the back seat of his car?”


Kudos to you Sherriff, I’d high-five you if I could.


While it is comforting to know that not all law enforcement officials share the same bible-belt rigidity as Governor Haslam and his cohorts, the fact that such a question even needs to be presented to those in charge of safeguarding our well-being by upholding justice is disconcerting, to say the least. But we are in the position of this day and age where, unfortunately, those questions do need to be asked.


Aligning with Sherriff Hall’s query, I proposed a similar question to the arresting officers who took me into custody. “Do you feel like you are serving justice by taking me to jail for a 5-gram possession charge? Can you honestly say that in doing this you are not wasting police time and resources?”

driving with cannabis

To which the deputy replied, “I would take you to jail even if you only had 1-gram, that’s the law and that’s my job.”


Needless-to-say, using the excuse of “I’m just following orders” under the false-pretense of appropriating justice and upholding the law, when the law in question is blatantly unjust, is simply not good enough.


So now I’m faced with exorbitant fines and the potential of being imprisoned away from my two daughters for up to a year.

Governor Bill Haslam would like you to believe that’s what justice looks like.

Does that seem like justice to you?

Gotta run for now,

I have a defense to prepare.
















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