City May Monitor Marijuana Ordinance Enforcement

Posted at 5:06 PM, Oct 18, 2016

Nashville's City Council will either approve or a deny a resolution requesting police to track data showing how the city's new marijuana ordinance is enforced.

In September, the city took one step toward decriminalizing the drug by giving police officers the discretion to issue a civil citation, instead of arresting an individual, in certain situations. The citation is only for cases where a person possesses a half ounce of weed or less.

According to FBI statistics, Nashville African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession four times more than that of whites. Some council members said tracking data will show how officers use the new rule.

"The city should definitely be better than that. I think everybody's goal, from the police department, to the district attorney, to the mayor, to the council is that we would have no race bias in the results we have," said council member Bob Mendes, who is co-sponsoring the resolution. "I think the only way we can get there, is by talking about it and measuring it, and judging ourselves by the results."

The data request is part of the council's consent agenda, and is a resolution, not an ordinance, meaning it is up to the police department to comply.

A police spokesman said police are already working to identify data that will give the department a baseline to compare with future data.