Tennessee: Attorney General Says Cities Cannot Enact Marijuana Decriminalization

Nashville, TN: Recently approved marijuana decriminalization ordinances in Memphis and Nashville conflict with Tennessee state drug laws and therefore may not be enforced, according to an opinion issued this week by the Office of the Attorney General.

City council members in both cities voted this fall to impose local ordinances providing municipal police the option of issuing citations for minor marijuana offenses in lieu of making a criminal arrest.

The opinion reads, “[T]he ordinance[s] cannot stand because [they] impede the inherent discretion and responsibility of district attorneys general to prosecute violations of the Drug Control Act.”

Republican state senators Brian Kelsey and Ron Lollar requested the opinion.

Under state law, first-offense marijuana possession violations are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, or Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.