Tennessee: Governor Signs Law Repealing Citywide Decriminalization Statutes

Nashville, TN: Governor Bill Haslam signed legislation last week repealing municipal statutes in Memphis and Nashville that reduced local penalties for marijuana possession offenders.

House Bill 173 nullifies both cities’ decriminalization ordinances and preempts any other city from enacting similar reforms.

City council members in Nashville and Memphis both passed ordinances last fall providing local law enforcement the discretion to cite and fine minor marijuana possession offenders in lieu of making an arrest and filing criminal charges. Similar measures have recently been enacted in numerous cities throughout the southern United States, particularly in Florida.

Under Tennessee law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a criminal record.

Governor Haslam failed to express his motivation for signing the bill other than to say that he “deferred to the will of the legislature.”

For more information, please contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.