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Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill to Block Local Decriminalization

March 27, 2017
Memphis, Tennessee, USA - September 9, 2011: A historic area of downtown Memphis, TN, Beale Street is lined with restaurants, clubs, and shops.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Legislature has passed a bill that would bar cities in Tennessee from decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

If the governor signs the bill, it will strike down laws in Memphis and Nashville that give police the discretion to write civil citations for people who have small amounts of cannabis.

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The bill passed in the Senate Monday evening after impassioned debate on both sides of the issue.

Sen. Lee Harris, a Democrat from Memphis, pleaded with fellow lawmakers to vote against the bill, saying that more people will likely wind up behind bars if it becomes law.

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Nashville Decriminalized Cannabis. But Should It Have?

Sen. Jack Johnson, a Republican from Franklin who sponsored the measure, said cities couldn’t simply decide which state laws they will enforce and which ones they won’t.

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  • Izzat So

    Stories like this (and others) make me wonder what really motivates lawmakers to propose or vote for restrictions on marijuana. Are they really so ignorant about marijuana, or are they being pushed into their anti- positions by influences like: lobbyists for PharMa, alcohol, tobacco, private prisons, police profiting from the war on drugs, even drug cartels that hate competition. Thank goodness more and more people are waking up and making their representatives see the truth. The tide is turning, but slowly. Two steps forward, one step backward (talking about you, Jack Johnson!).

    • RaymondSte

      You KNOW without a doubt what motivates lawmakers

  • lovingc

    A new policy goes into effect today for people caught with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana in Harris County.

    Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced the new marijuana policy earlier this month. She says it will save the county millions of dollars and free up resources to focus on prosecuting violent crimes.

    The new Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, which takes effect on March 1, 2017, will divert all misdemeanor marijuana cases — involving up to four ounces — out of the criminal justice system, instead redirecting low-level drug offenders into a decision-making class.
    Harris County marijuana prosecution by the numbers
    Harris County spends approximately $26 million each year prosecuting 10,000 misdemeanor marijuana cases
    Crime labs spend $1.7 million testing evidence for those 10,000 cases
    On average, it takes four hours of a law enforcement officer’s time to arrest, transport and book a misdemeanor offender
    Harris County spends $13 million housing marijuana offenders, who each spend an average of 6 days in jail
    Low-level marijuana cases account for 10 percent of cases on Harris County court dockets.

    • randolini

      Just think of how much more money they would have if it was available legally. As a native Texan, I try to educate my state senator and representative every chance I get. I’m 70 now and I want to see it legalized before I die.