Bill introduced in Senate to decriminalize marijuana in TN

Bill would decriminalize marijuana

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Democratic Tennessee State Senator Sara Kyle proposed a new bill that would decriminalize marijuana in Tennessee.

The bill decriminalizes the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, meaning a person would not have to go to jail.

“I would love it to pass this year, but at least it gets us to start discussing what marijuana really is and break down these barriers of fear," said Kyle.

Senator Kyle said the bill is about protecting teens and young adults.

"We do not need to be putting our citizens in jail," said Kyle.

Tennessee is one of 16 states where marijuana is completely illegal.

In 10 states and Washington, D.C. marijuana is completely legal.

The rest of the country has either legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized it, or both.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said at this point he does not have a position on the bill, but he is in favor of more leniency on non-violent offenders.

"I think the system you ought to be more flexible in general. Non-violent criminals to a large extent should not fill up our jails. Those should be reserved for violent criminals," said Strickland.

In 2016, both Memphis and Nashville passed city ordinances allowing police officers the discretion to charge someone with a civil infraction for small amounts of marijuana.

Then Governor Haslam signed a bill repealing those local laws.

“The fact that this is happening in Nashville with Republicans and Democratic Senators Sara Kyle from Memphis all sponsoring bill that's something to keep an eye on. It may well happen," said WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson.

The bill will be introduced by February 7.

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