Bill would decriminalize marijuana possession under one ounce

Posted at 8:37 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 21:43:11-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lawmakers will debate whether or not to decriminalize marijuana this year in the state legislature.

A Memphis lawmaker filed a bill to allow possession of weed up to an ounce without prosecution. However, the bill wouldn't allow for the sale of the plant.

Representative London Lamar said she'd like a statewide standard for how marijuana is dealt with. Two cities in Tennessee already don't prosecute people caught with small amounts of the drug.

"What we want to do is make sure there's a unified standard across Tennessee where no matter what county you're in, there's the same standard around criminalization and having the possession of marijuana," said Rep. Lamar.

In Nashville, DA Glenn Funk said he wouldn't prosecute anyone for amounts of weed under a half-ounce.

In the state legislature, though, marijuana has faced stiff opposition for many years.

Medical marijuana legislation failed multiple years in a row, even with republican backing. The bills struggled to make it through committees and often failed in the Senate before a bill made it to the house floor.

"I think it's going to encounter some of the same struggles that it did in the United States Congress. It easily passed the house in Congress. I do think there is as much support around decriminalization in republicans of the Tennessee house," said Rep. Lamar.

The More Act passed in the U.S. House last month. It would strike cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Lamar believes the U.S. Senate may pass it through as well.