Metro Council Members are currently in the processes of legislation to decriminalize marijuana. The new ordinance would allow for the possession and exchange of small amounts (1/2 oz.) of cannabis.
The newly proposed ordinance has not gone unnoticed by the state, which failed to pass a similar bill earlier this year. The Senate Judiciary Committee struck down the proposed bill that would allow those carrying less than ½ an ounce of marijuana within Tennessee to get off with a warning, as opposed to an arrest. As of now the state still considers the carrying and exchange of this drug as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2500.00 dollars in fines.
Given that the state would not even pass a bill that would grant warnings for those carrying small amounts of the psychoactive drug, backlash against the Metro is expected. Currently the Metro Police Department is opposed to the proposed ordinance as it limits the discretion of officers. However, a council member (who the ordinance is being sponsored by) is quoted stating, “The most harmful effect of marijuana is marijuana laws.”
What does it all mean?
No matter where you stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana—whether you are firmly opposed, understand the medicinal purposes of cannabis, or are the first in line for the puff-puff-pass—this ordinance has opened up numerous questions in the conversation regarding lawful drug arrests.
As a criminal defense firm, we can’t help but wonder about a few open-ended questions:
- How will this work, since marijuana is still illegal on a state level?
- Will the smell of marijuana still be probable cause for an arrest?
- What level of police discretion will be allowed?
If the ordinance passes, these questions will all have to be addressed. Our firm is dedicated to defending the rights of individuals, especially in the face of changing laws and objectionable evidence.