NASHVILLE, TN — Music City, USA has become the first city in Tennessee to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession.
On Tuesday, the Nashville Metro Council gave final approval to an ordinance that will keep those caught possessing up to half an ounce of marijuana out of jail.
The ordinance gives police officers the discretion to issue a $50 fine and community service for possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana. The ordinance takes effect immediately.
However, due to a last minute change in the bill made to reduce opposition from law enforcement, the ordinance now gives officers the discretion to arrest and charge someone under state law. Under state law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.
Nashville is the state capital of Tennessee, and is home to over 654,000 people, making it the largest city in the state. City officials in Memphis, which comes in close as the state’s second largest city, are considering a similar ordinance next week.
Marijuana reform activists are hopeful that state lawmakers will consider statewide marijuana decriminalization when the legislature reconvenes in January. Earlier this year, lawmakers reduced penalties for a third marijuana possession offense from a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, to a misdemeanor offense, punishable by no more than one year in jail.
Tennessee is #18 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests, according to nationwide analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union.
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