NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Metro Council committee recommended a substitute version of the marijuana ordinance that passed its second reading Tuesday night.
The ordinance would lower the penalty for possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana to $50 or 10 hours of community. Current penalties include a fine up to $2,500 or possibly a year in jail.
The latest version would allow Metro police officers to use their discretion when someone is caught with half an ounce or less of weed. An officer could decide to write a citation with the reduced penalties or a citation under the current penalties.
Chief Steve Anderson, once against the ordinance, said Tuesday he would have “neutral stance” in regard to the latest substitution.
The chief made his thoughts known in an email last Friday to Metro Council members where he said, “The language, as originally filed made it mandatory that that an officer issue a civil citation on amounts of marijuana less than one-half ounce. After discussion with the sponsor, it is my understanding that this mandatory language has now been removed. Consequently, I feel comfortable in moving my position to neutral…”
Some council members like Steve Glover have already registered opposition, maintaining that even the substitute measure would violate state law.
“It does not decriminalize. It puts a code in Metro. State law says it’s still a misdemeanor. You get pulled over by the wrong police officer, you are going to jail, you got 11-months 29 days, you got up to a 25-hundred dollar fine,” Glover explained. “And the judge, the judge may say, ‘No, no, no. State law will still prevail.’”
The ordinance passed its second reading Tuesday night.