Tennessee bill would kill laxer marijuana laws in Nashville, Memphis

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Nashville and Memphis police could lose their ability to avoid charging people criminally for carrying small amounts of marijuana under legislation passed by Tennessee’s Republican-led General Assembly.

GOP Gov. Bill Haslam’s office says he’s deferred to the legislature’s will on the proposal to strip Tennessee’s two biggest cities of their option to issue marijuana possession civil citations.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said there’s growing bipartisan consensus to reduce criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Since Nashville’s ordinance took effect in September, police have issued 39 marijuana civil citations, versus 963 state misdemeanor simple possession criminal citations.

Memphis only issued one civil citation since passing its ordinance in October. Memphis police suspended the option after a November attorney general opinion said the marijuana ordinances conflict with state law.

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