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Tennessee man arrested after lighting up in court

It takes almost exactly two hours to make the 135-mile drive north of Chattanooga to Lebanon, the seat of Wilson County. An unusual scene unfolded there recently when a Tennessee man who had been charged with marijuana possession took a decidedly theatrical approach to making his opposition clear to our state’s weed laws.

While the judge was making some notes, the 20-year-old defendant reached into a coat pocket, pulled out a marijuana cigarette and lit up. He took a puff and turned to the packed courtroom and said, “the people deserve better.” According to a reporter, laughter erupted among those in attendance. However, the judge was not amused.

The weed-puffing defendant was immediately taken into custody by bailiffs and then sentenced by the unamused judge to spend 10 days behind bars for contempt of court.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 20 years and this is by far the most bizarre thing I have seen in a courtroom,” a sheriff’s deputy said. He added that judges expect respect and that the defiant defendant “definitely disrespected the judge and the courtroom, so there should be consequences.”

While there is reasonable debate here in Tennessee and elsewhere about the pros and cons of legalization of recreational marijuana, few would argue that it’s a good idea to light up in a court setting. The defendant in this case will have to decide for himself whether 10 days in jail is a price worth paying for making a point.

If you face drug charges here in Chattanooga, contact a criminal defense lawyer experienced in protecting rights and freedom.

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TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
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