Nashville decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana

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Story by Andrew Wigdor / Assistant News Editor and  Brinley Hineman /  Co-News Editor

Nashville became the first city in Tennessee to lessen the penalty for small amounts of marijuana Tuesday night.

The Metro Council approved a bill that allows officers to fine someone $50 with community service if they are in possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana.

If the new ordinance is used by police, the owner of the marijuana does not have to face any criminal charges. Instead, the citizens caught with small amounts of marijuana receive a civil citation, similar to littering or code violations in place today. Previously, individuals charged with marijuana possession faced a misdemeanor with up to a year of jail time and a $2,500 fine.

The bill passed with a vote of 35-3 and is on it’s way to Mayor Megan Barry for approval.

Barry stated in a press release Tuesday evening, “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.”

The lead sponsor of BL2016-378, Councilman Dave Rosenberg, took a similar stance when addressing the concerns aimed towards the bill.

He stated, “My hope is that people will use this bill as a tool to help citizens who would otherwise not have a criminal record, to continue with their lives without the burden of that offense.”

In addition to Rosenberg, Councilman Russ Pulley explained that his full support was behind the bill and that he spoke on the floor of the council during the final reading.

“This bill leads us down a path of discussing the eventual legalization of marijuana in Tennessee,” Pulley stated.

Some have questioned the legality of the bill due to its connection to marijuana decriminalization and current state law.

Pulley clarified the bill’s validity, stating, “There has been some discussion from state legislators about if this bill violates state law. That is nothing more than false comments by grandstanding politicians who are pandering to their constituents.”

For more information about the bill, visit or contact Dave Rosenberg on

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One Response

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  1. MdbFA16
    Nov 28, 2016 - 05:47 PM

    This article is very informative. I did not know that this piece of legislation is being pushed, but I agree with it. While the use of drugs is bad and, in my opinion, should be frowned upon it is safe to question if it is fair to charge someone with a misdemeanor and $2,500 fine. The fact that Nashville is the first city in Tennessee to actually lessen the penalty for small amounts of Marijuana is huge. I think it is important to take steps towards making crime punishable with the appropriate punishments. Dave Rosenberg made a valid point in stating that he hopes people will use the bill as a tool to help citizens be able to continue their lives. I like that he thought about the citizens in his decision making because when charged with a misdemeanor or any criminal offense it has negative affects over job situations and life in general. To charge someone for a crime who has less than an ounce of weed on them, and are not selling it or anything of that nature I think is harsh. While this bill is supposed to in turn lead to the discussion of legalizing Marijuana in Tennessee, I do not necessarily think weed will ever be legal in the state of Tennessee; at least not anytime soon. It will be interesting to see where this goes, and if the charges will actually be lessened. My hope is that it will because authority figures have more to worry about than individuals with less than an ounce of marijuana in their possession.


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