Sheriff Supports Idea Of Decriminalizing Pot In Metro

Posted at 6:17 PM, Aug 30, 2016

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced his support for a proposed Nashville ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana.

Hall said he thought it was a good idea, and said it could save taxpayers big money.

The proposal would radically reduce the punishment for anyone caught with less than half an ounce of pot.

Metro Nashville Police have not yet endorsed the idea, but Sheriff Hall did on Tuesday.

"Yeah, I think we should do that. I really do," said Hall.

He said the move toward making marijuana possession a civil, rather than criminal offense, is a good idea.

"The reason is not to support people using marijuana. I'm not saying that at all," said Hall.

But during an appearance on NewsChannel 5's “MorningLine,” Hall talked about the potential for changing who goes to jail and who doesn't.

Under current state law, those caught with a few joints face up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine.

The proposal in Metro would make it a civil offense, like a traffic ticket.

Hall said that change could also eliminate probation violations for small amounts of marijuana. That would mean sending far fewer people to jail for a failed drug screen – which, of course, would save taxpayers money.

"Who do you want to put in a jail cell? Do you really want the 19-year-old kids with marijuana in the car, and at that level we are talking about, and then send them to jail when the same kid's parents have a liquor cabinet full of substances that will do far worse than what he had in his car," Hall added.

Sheriff Hall has been the first law enforcement officer in the county to support the move to decriminalize marijuana. Metro Police said there are concerns over language in the measure and have not taken sides.

The marijuana measure passed its first reading before the Metro Council earlier this month, but faced two more readings.

The city of Memphis has considered a similar measure.