Nashville Decriminalizes Marijuana (Sort Of)

 NASHVILLE (CN) — Nashville became the first city in Tennessee to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana after the Metro Council approved the measure in a 35-3 vote Tuesday night.

The bill, BL2016-378, allows Nashville cops to give someone a $50 fine or community service for possession of less than a half-ounce of pot.

But police officers can still use their discretion on a case-by-case basis, and can impose the old penalty of a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry plans to sign the legislation, saying after Tuesday night's vote that it "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," Barry said in a statement. "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."

Nashville Metro Council members Doug Pardue, Steve Glover and Sheri Weiner voted against the measure. Jacobia Dowell abstained.

Memphis plans to consider a similar bill on Oct. 4.


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