Under the measure, introduced by Democrat State Rep. Rick Staples, counties would be permitted to hold referendum elections “to authorize the growing, processing, manufacture, delivery, and retail sale of marijuana within jurisdictional boundaries.”
The measure would broadly decriminalize possession by adults up to one-half ounce.
A September poll found that 12 percent of Tennesseans supported the continued criminalization of cannabis in the state, while 47 percent supported adult-use legalization. Another poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University found 81 percent support both medical and recreational cannabis law reforms, according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press report.
Last week Republican State Sen. Janice Bowling introduced legislation to legalize medical cannabis in the state, WATE reports. Under the state’s current medical cannabis program, licensed physicians can recommend cannabis oil with less than 0.9 percent THC for seizure disorders but the oil can only be produced by a university as part of a clinical trial. The law has been amended twice since its 2014 passage but both times the changes have only added more restrictions to the already narrow program.
Last year lawmakers rejected three bills to expand that limited medical cannabis regime.
If the legalization measure is approved, it would be the first legislation in the nation to allow counties to legalize cannabis rather that the state at-large.
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