Tennessee blocking cities’ push to ease marijuana punishment

Friday, April 21, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — As states and cities nationwide look to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee’s conservative Republican legislature is blocking that trend in Nashville and Memphis.

As a result, police there could soon lose their option of giving minor citations for carrying small amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee lawmakers have agreed to bar cities from issuing civil citations for marijuana possession, and GOP Gov. Bill Haslam’s office says he’s deferring to the legislature.

The cities’ citation option has rarely been used.

Since Nashville’s ordinance took effect in September, police have issued 39 marijuana civil citations and 963 state misdemeanor simple possession criminal citations.

Memphis issued just one civil citation since passing its ordinance in October. Memphis’ option was suspended after a November attorney general opinion said such ordinances conflict with state law.