Nashville’s new ordinance that has decriminalized a half ounce or less of marijuana may be missing one small but significant detail, according to some Nashville attorneys.
“I think it’s a start to say we don’t want to punish people with small amounts of marijuana,” said Nashville attorney Chelsea Nicholson. “But people aren’t going to want this on their record.”
The language in the current ordinance does not include language that allows a judge to dismiss the charge once a fine has been paid or community service has been completed. Without that language, the charge cannot be expunged from a person's record, according to Nicholson.
Civil charges can pop up on background checks or simple internet searches.
“It could pull up on Google, it could pull up on Intelius, and it could pull up on jobs,” Nicholson said. “Certainly, if you're trying to get into higher education, it might affect your ability to get into dental school or law school.”
Mayor Megan Barry said the city will review issues with the ordinance as they arise.
“As we roll this out, we’ll address the devil in the details,” Barry said. “I think the intent is to make it so you're not impacted as a youth, if this is the only thing you've done, that this sets you up for the rest of your life to be in a place where you can't get a job, you can't get a license, that kind of thing."
Drug paraphernalia like pipes or scales have not been covered by the ordinance. Possession of those items will continue to be treated as misdemeanors.