Nashville passed a law on Tuesday night to change marijuana laws within the city limits. They have decided to have weed decriminalized and the penalties for those caught reduced. Under the current law, a person arrested for even the most minor amount of weed possession has had to face a $2,500 fine, up to a year in jail and their record permanently destroyed by the criminal charge. This has the potential to ruin a person’s life, affecting housing, employment and the wellbeing of any families affected by the loss of the main bread winner and the cost of the fine. Despite an equal number of white and black people using marijuana, an extremely disproportionate number of African Americans and other minority groups are arrested and charged for marijuana possession.
Details of Nashville’s Decriminalization
Under the new law, the penalty for possession of anywhere up to half an ounce of weed is now a $50 fine or up to 10 hours of community service. It will be considered a civil offence and not appear on anyone’s record. The bill was led by Councilman Dave Rosenberg, who presented Nashville’s Metro City Council members with a list of other cities across the country who have already had weed decriminalized. The list includes Chicago, Berkley, Columbia, New York, New Orleans, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and many more as well as cities in Kansas, Mississippi, Michigan and more. The Memphis city council will also be taking a similar vote in 2 weeks. Rosenberg clarified for the council that “As much as I’d like to think we’re cutting edge on this one, we’re not. We’re catching up.” The Memphis city council will also be taking a similar vote in 2 weeks.
Weed Decriminalized for Numerous Benefits
The new law is intended to prevent discrimination and save on the cost of law enforcement, court hearings and imprisonment for a harmless inconsequential offense that the majority of the country believes should be legalized anyway. It has the potential to stop the cycles of crime associated to those who spend time in jail, due to the consequences of the staining on their record and the dehumanization of the experience. With weed decriminalized, many lives will undoubtedly be helped and future crimes prevented. “All this bill does is give police the option of not treating someone with a little pot like a hardened criminal. Because when you start treating good members of our society like criminals they begin acting like criminals,” says Rosenberg.
A “Positive Step Forward”
Nashville’s Mayor Megan Berry agrees with Rosenberg’s sentiment and is signing the measure into law this week. She expressed that this new law is a “positive step forward in addressing the overly punitive treatment of marijuana possession” stating that it “disproportionately impacts low-income and minority residents.” As more cities continue to get behind the decriminalization of weed, it makes it easier for more cities to update their laws and helps many lives along the way. The council members voted 35-3 in favor of passing the law, showing that Nashville government are in favor of this new movement into the future.