TN: Memphis Council Member To Propose Easing Marijuana Penalties


The Memphis City Council will get into the weeds Tuesday on an idea to decriminalize marijuana possession in some cases.

Council member Berlin Boyd said he’ll present an ordinance in the council’s Public Safety committee meeting that would let police officers choose whether people caught with 1.5 ounces or less of marijuana should be charged with a misdemeanors or fined $50 with the possibility for community service.

“I just think it’s a way to relieve our overall court costs and fees, and trying to incarcerate people,” Boyd said.

Boyd said his ordinance is modeled after a similar ordinance under consideration by the Metro Council in Nashville. Tampa and other Florida municipalities have recently approved similar ordinances.

He said the cost of strict state marijuana possession laws is high – especially for young people, who face long-term consequences if their records are besmirched.

Boyd said his ordinance is on safe legal ground because officers have discretion about whether to follow state law or local ordinances in some situations.

“Based on what I’ve been told, the arresting officer can make that decision about whether to cite them or turn them over,” he said.

Individuals convicted of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine under current state law, although Boyd said several state lawmakers told him they want to reform the law.

The committee meeting is set for 10 a.m. on the fifth floor of City Hall, 125 N. Main. If the council follows its normal procedure, the ordinance would be up for a final vote Oct. 4.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Memphis Council Member To Propose Easing Marijuana Penalties
Author: Ryan Poe
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Website: The Commercial Appeal