Allan Askar

Nashville Decriminalizes Cannabis Possession, State Lawmaker Threatens to Revoke Funds

A Tennessee Republican State Representative is considering filing a bill next session that would halt highway funds to cities that do not enforce state marijuana laws, according to a report from the Tennessean. The move comes as Nashville became the first city in the state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis and Memphis considers its own reforms.

Rep. William Lamberth argues that having two possession laws — one local and one state — creates “two standards of justice” and the penalty is at the “whim of an officer.” Further, he argues, that it’s not decriminalization at all because they are maintaining the state statutes, and that the measures look to him “like a political stunt to curry favor with certain constituencies.”

“That’s not a bill that I would want to file, but it’s a bill that I’m certainly willing to file if Nashville and Memphis continue down this extraordinarily reckless and unjust path,” he said in the report.

Nashville’s Metro Council approved the new rules 35-3, which allows officers to hand down a $50 fine and community service if  an individual is caught with less than an ounce of cannabis. Under current law, persons could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

In a WKRN report, Nashville Councilman Steve Glover echoed the sentiments of Lamberth — “you get pulled over by the wrong officer, you can still get handcuffed, you can still go to jail.”

Last year, Rep. Harold Love and Sen. Jeff Yarbro introduced legislation that would have decriminalized up to a half ounce of marijuana statewide, but that bill stalled in the legislature.     

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