A Tennessee Man Was Just Arrested for Smoking a Joint in Court
Smoking a joint in front of a judge probably isn't the best way to get out of a weed possession charge — but it is a bold way to protest prohibition.
Published on January 28, 2020

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A Tennessee man just shocked a local court by sparking up a joint and smoking it right in front of the judge.

This past Monday, 20-year-old Spencer Alan Boston was summoned to a criminal court in Lebanon, TN, on a minor cannabis possession charge. Boston approached the bench to discuss his sentence with General Sessions Judge Haywood Berry, but instead of pleading his innocence, the young man told the judge that cannabis should be legal.

To illustrate his point, Boston reportedly pulled a joint out of his pocket, lit it, and proceeded to smoke. The courtroom immediately burst into laughter, disrupting the court's daily proceedings. 

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Ryan, who observed the incident, told NewsChannel 5 that it was “one of the craziest things I've seen.” The judge declared Boston in contempt of court, and police led him to jail, leaving the courtroom smelling like a hotboxed college dorm room. 

In addition to his original possession charge, Boston was charged with disorderly conduct and a second count of possession. For these two misdemeanor possession charges, Boston can face up to a year in prison for each charge, with mandatory fines of $250 for the first offense, and $500 for the second. The judge also added an additional ten days in jail for contempt of court.

A growing number of cities and states across the US have begun to accept that cannabis prohibition does more harm than good, and have moved to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in some capacity. Tennessee is not one of these states, however. 

Memphis and Nashville, two of the state's largest cities, both passed ordinances allowing police to give minor cannabis offenders citations rather than dragging them to jail. But in 2017, former Governor Bill Haslam signed a law that nullified these cities' decriminalization efforts.

Tennessee is also one of the minority of US states that hasn't even legalized medical marijuana. Legislators have been trying to push limited medical marijuana proposals through the state's Republican-controlled General Assembly for years, with no luck. 2020 may bring a glimmer of hope, though. Medical marijuana proposals are back on the table this year, after a state senate committee postponed them in 2019, and a new bil aims to decriminalize all minor pot offenses across the state.

In the meantime, Tennessee cops continue to bust citizens for minor weed crimes, even though far more dangerous drugs like meth and opioids are becoming the state's most popular substances of choice.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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