Tennessee: Davidson County District Attorney Ceasing Low-Level Marijuana Prosecutions

Nashville, TN: The Office of the District Attorney for Davidson County (population: 694,000), which includes the city of Nashville, has announced that it will immediately cease prosecuting low-level marijuana possession offenses.

In a statement issued last week by District Attorney Glenn Funk, he said that activities involving the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis will no longer be prosecuted by county officials. “Marijuana charges do little to promote public health, and even less to promote public safety,” he said.

The District Attorney further opined that the criminal enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionately impacted people of color. The policy change reprioritizes funding and resources toward the prosecution of more serious crimes, he added.

In recent months, District Attorneys in several municipalities nationwide — including Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — have similarly taken steps to cease marijuana-related prosecutions.

The move marks the second time in recent years that Nashville officials have acted to limit criminal prosecutions for minor marijuana offenses. In 2016, city lawmakers in Nashville and Memphis passed legislation providing police with the discretion to cite and fine minor marijuana possession offenders in lieu of making an arrest and filing criminal charges. However, months later state lawmakers passed legislation repealing those municipal statutes.

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.