Memphis City Council passes Marijuana Ordinance

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on October 07, 2016.

In a major development, the Memphis City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance that would allow police to reduce the penalty for people who possess a small amount of marijuana.

The council voted 7-6 after an hour-long discussion from people on both sides of the issue. Council members Berlin Boyd, Edmund Ford Jr., Reid Hedgepeth, Martavius Jones, Patrice J. Robinson, Philip Spinosa Jr. and Jamita Swearengen voted in favor of the ordinance, while Joe Brown, Frank Colvett, Kemp Conrad, Fullilove, Worth Morgan and Bill Morrison voted against it.

According to the new measure, Police officers will now have a choice when it comes to punish people caught with a small amount of marijuana. They have the option of issuing a civil citation for a $50 fine or community service, rather than arresting the individual with possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana.

Previously, the offense was a criminal misdemeanor, and people faced up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Meanwhile, the violators of marijuana rule could opt for 10 hours of community service on the first offense, with 10 additional hours per offense up to 40 hours, according to new rule.

Police can still charge offenders under state criminal law, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Besides, they will report quarterly to City Council in regards to the ordinance. They'll explain why some people went to court while others got community service, creating data they hope will help mold the future.

Berlin Boyd, who sponsored the ordinance with Martavius Jones, acknowledged the ordinance would be a work in progress. He said, the move would provide some people a "second chance." However, the opponents maintained that the ordinance wouldn't safe police nearly as much time or money as its supporters claimed.

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