NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Under Tennessee state law, if you’re convicted of possessing a joint or a small amount of pot, you can go to jail for a year and pay a $2,500 fine.
But if a Metro ordinance is passed, the penalties for that same joint could be greatly reduced, to no more than a 50 dollar ticket or community service.
The ordinance introduced by three Metro councilmen has found favor among some citizens, but as it is currently worded, is opposed by the Metro-Nashville Police Department.
Ordinance #BL2016-378 known is a real talker, proposed by District 35 councilman Dave Rosenberg and two others.
It seeks to reduce penalties on those who possess or casually exchange a small amount of pot, less than 1/2 an ounce.
“All this does is say if you are making a mistake, we won’t penalize you the rest of your life. You pay your ticket or do your community service and move on and learn from it,” Rosenberg told News 2.
A Minnesota man was at Legislative Plaza is in favor of the new law. News 2 caught up with him on his way to Manchester to pay a pot from he got last June at Bonnaroo.
“I don’t think it is a threat. It is a harmless drug for those who use it responsibly,” said Matt Bergstrom.
According to a spokesman, even Nashville’s mayor views the proposal favorably.
“The Mayor is still reviewing the proposed ordinance and its implications but is generally supportive of efforts to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and looks forward to hearing more about this specific proposal,” said Sean Braisted.
Metro police is not in favor of the ordinance as written. It has to do with one word—the word “shall.”
According to police spokesman Don Aaron, “The word ‘shall’ would appear to take away officer discretion. There may be circumstances where it is best from a law enforcement perspective for a case to result in a misdemeanor criminal charge.”
Metro Director of Law Jon Cooper has reviewed the language and told News 2 the ordinance can be amended to address police concerns.
The council will consider the ordinance on a first of three votes next week. Sponsor Rosenberg says he is receptive to amending the language of the ordinance.