Memphis city Councilman Berlin Boyd had hoped to cut down on the amount of people in jail for simple possession of marijuana with an ordinance he introduced last fall that would decriminalize having less than a half-ounce of marijuana. And the city councils of both Memphis and Nashville did vote last year to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in their jurisdictions, giving police in those cities the discretion to hand out lighter civil citations.
But soon after, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the Memphis and Nashville ordinances violated state statute after the respective city council members’ cast their votes.
The Tennessee House of Representatives approved a bill in March that nullified the marijuana decriminalization laws approved in Nashville and Memphis.
The legislation repealed any local law that is inconsistent with penalties in state statutes pertaining to drug control and narcotics. The bill would also prevent local governments from creating their own sanctions. The House voted 65-28 in favor of the bill.
A recent Tennesseans for Conservative Action poll from earlier this year found 52 percent of conservative-leaning voters in Tennessee supported marijuana for medicinal use, while only 31 percent opposed it.
Other states have had a smoother road to acceptance, and on August 1, New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Cory Booker announced he was introducing legislation to legalize marijuana across the US. Arkansas residents voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes back in November. Since then, the state legislature has been hammering out a plan to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana. On June 30, the Arkansas Department of Health began taking applications for qualified patients and caregivers of qualified