Nashville’s Metro Council made history this past Tuesday by approving the city’s first measure to allow less harsh civil penalties for people caught with small amounts of marijuana, but it may set the stage for a confrontation with the state. The council voted 35-3 to give final approval of legislation that will give Nashville police the option of reducing the penalty for people who are found in knowing possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less to a $50 fine or 10 hours of community service. He reeled off a long list of cities and states as examples, noting that even the conservative Deep South state of Mississippi has a law on the books.

“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,” Barry said in a statement after the council’s vote.

“It is important to stress that this ordinance is not a license to sell, possess or use marijuana in Nashville,” she said. “When this ordinance becomes law, police officers will still have the ability to make arrests or issue state criminal citations for marijuana possession as circumstances warrant, which is a Class A misdemeanor under state law.”

Council members Steve Glover, Sheri Weiner and Doug Pardue cast the lone votes against the proposal. Glover expressed concern about sending “mixed messages” by giving police two options for penalties for small marijuana possession. They’ve likened the measure to Metro’s laws for litter and seat belts, both of which have penalties that are not as severe as those outlined in state law. State Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, has argued that Nashville’s pot ordinance would create “two standards of justice” whereby one person caught with small amounts of pot could face a $50 fine and another could face 11 months and 29 days in jail.

“The Sumner County lawmaker has said he is “strongly considering” filing a state bill next session that, as a penalty, would seek to halt state highway funds from cities that do not enforce criminal penalties outlined in state law.

Asked about the threat of state intervention, Barry said Nashville shouldn’t govern “based on what the state may or may not do. Pulley also called on the state legislature to use “reason and common sense” when addressing the issue.In recent days, some judges in Nashville have raised concerns that issuing civil penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana might make it harder to expunge the records.

MAPH Enterprises, LLC | (305) 414-0128 | 1501 Venera Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33146 |
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like