Nashville will decriminalize weed by giving police an option to ticket after the Metro Council approved a lighter penalty for marijuana possession.
The measure does not provide Tennessee with decriminalization, even though it’s on the 2016 ballot. Persons caught with weed may receive a $50 fine by the Nashville police instead of an arrest.
Decriminalization of weed in Tennessee has been a topic of discussion for many years. Cannabis is still illegal under federal law.
The bill was sponsored by Councilman Dave Rosenberg that gives local police the option of ticketing or making an arrest. Rosenberg believes that treating good members in the society like criminals; they begin acting like criminals.
Surprisingly, the Nashville Marijuana Decriminalization bill was passed 35-3 with advocates hoping the Nashville police will hand out citations.
But Councilman Steve Glover is worried that people will be jailed for weed since it’s at the officer’s discretion. He warns that a state trooper doesn’t have the authority on the state-level to hand out tickets.
Another concern is from state Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, who wants to penalize Nashville by withholding some of its $110 million state highway funds. Lamberth blasts the Nashville bill because it allows a police officer to treat people differently for the same crime.
Lamberth previously led a change to state law to eliminate felony charges for marijuana possession. But he calls the Nashville effort “not true decriminalization.” Some speculate that he stopped short of saying he wants weed decriminalization in Tennessee.
Members of the Metro Council said the move to allow its local police department to hand out fines for marijuana is legal and has been vetted. Some of the members who work as lawyers say the measure will deal with low-level charges much like judges do without trying up the Nashville courts.
The bill has the blessing from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry who will sign the ordinance.