Nashville passes Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on September 23, 2016.

Nashville became the first city in the state of Tennessee to reduce the penalty for people who possess a small amount of marijuana as the Metropolitan Council on Tuesday night passed an ordinance with 35-3 voting in this regard.

"This legislation is a positive step forward in addressing the overly punitive treatment of marijuana possession in our state that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority residents. It is important to stress that this ordinance is not a license to sell, possess, or use marijuana in Nashville”, Mayor Megan Barry stated in a release after the voting.

According to the new ordinance, those who possess or exchange a half-ounce of marijuana would face a civil penalty of $50. A court could also choose to suspend the civil penalty and order ten hours of community service if someone is found with less than a half-ounce of marijuana.

The new measure also allows Metro-Nashville police officers to use their discretion in a case-by-case basis. If an officer catches someone with half an ounce or less of marijuana, they can opt to give them the lesser penalties under the new law or the misdemeanor charge, rather than arresting the individual.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) has appreciated the Metro Council’s decision, saying it a “smarter approach to marijuana possession.”

However, Councilman Glover did not support the bill because he said it sends mixed messages. “That does not mean if you come into Davidson County and you have a half ounce of marijuana or below that you are safe. You get pulled over by the wrong officer, you can still get handcuffed, you can still go to jail,” he said.

Current state law states that people who commit the offense face a fine of $2,500 and a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year behind bars.

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