NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee crossroads in Nashville, including interstates 24, 40 and 65, are a hub for illegal marijuana transport across the southeast.
But is change coming down the road, by way of medical marijuana? Law enforcement is split.
Chief Anthony Heavner, with Portland police, said he comes across cannabis on a daily basis.
“It’s almost as prevalent as alcohol in most cases,” he noted. “Medical marijuana kind of opens up a whole new can of worms.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration labels marijuana the most “available and commonly used illicit drug” in the United States.
Analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, finds that 52 percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana.
Those numbers though are too high for Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall.
“People’s lives are totally ruined by an arrest for a small amount of marijuana in the back of a car. Young people can never get jobs,” said Hall. “I don’t think we need to be building jail cells, and ruining lives over the small use of marijuana.”
The medical marijuana divide in law enforcement is stark.
While some view it as a partial remedy for opioid abuse, others see it possibly as Tennessee’s next crutch.
“It’s become probably the number one problem in the United States, opioid abuse, is marijuana going to be next?” said Heavner. “Everybody’s heard the term ‘gateway drug,’ and I firmly believe that it is.”
Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, legal in many states, while illegal for all on the federal level.
“It’s confusing, you know,” added Heavner. “We’ve always taken an aggressive approach about any person in possession of drugs.”
For many in law enforcement, it’s a matter of precedent. Legalize this form of medical marijuana, and it’s tough to reverse the movement’s momentum.
Sheriff Hall hopes instead for comprehensive discussion as the debate rolls on.
“Let’s get out of the politics – Democrats, Republicans, and all the holier than thou attitude,” he said. “I think we need to have that conversation nationwide.”