Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nashville police changes position on pot decriminalization bill. It passes 2nd reading by a voice vote.

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Sept 6, 2016 - The Metro Nashville Police Department has gone from being opposed to Nashville’s proposed marijuana decriminalization ordinance to now having a neutral stance on the bill following tweaks planned for the legislation by the bill’s Metro Council sponsors. [Those tweaks passed] ....  would lessen the penalty for people who knowingly possess a half-ounce of marijuana or less to a $50 civil penalty of 10 hours of community service. ... Police .. had initially opposed the legislation outright over language in the ordinance that says violators "shall" be issued a citation for a civil penalty of $50. [It was amended to "may" which I do not like. Too much discretion on the part of police leads to too much power on the part of police.] Anderson said among top concerns is the weight or quantity of marijuana as defined in the bill. He said one-half ounce of marijuana is a greater quantity than some people realize — enough, he said, to create 50 “joint” marijuana cigarettes. [I think that is a valid point. One should carry no more than he can smoke in an evening or share with friends, maybe half of pill bottle container full, or enough to roll  four or five joints.] Under Tennessee law, people caught with one-half ounce of marijuana or less face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. (link)

Nashville marijuana decriminalization effort advances in Metro Council 

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Sept. 7, 2016 - The Metro Council, by a voice vote, advanced legislation on a second of three readings that would add Nashville to the growing list of cities and states that have passed measures aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot. [I am surprised it was my voice vote. That opponents did not demand a roll call is a good sign.] 

My Comment: My editorial comments are inserted in the news stories above in this text color. I am disappointed that the bill was weakened from the original but this is a nevertheless a step in the right direction. It may have been necessary to modify the bill in order to pass it.  For more on my arguments in favor of decriminalization of marijuana see Metro Councilman Files a Bill to Greatly Reduce the Fine for Pot Possession. 

There is speculation that the Republican dominated State legislature may pass a bill to nullify this effort, if the bill passes a final vote of the Council. I hope that is not the case and I will be very disappointed should that occur.
 

     

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