Nashville marijuana decriminalization bill passes final reading

(WSMV file photo)

Metro Council has passed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Nashville.

The bill passed its third and final reading at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The ordinance aims to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, which is defined as half an ounce or less. Metro police would use their discretion whether to issue a $50 fine or a criminal charge.

Mayor Megan Barry released the following statement concerning the council’s vote:This legislation is a positive step forward in addressing the overly punitive treatment of marijuana possession in our state that disproportionately impacts low-income and minority residents.

It is important to stress that this ordinance is not a license to sell, possess, or use marijuana in Nashville. When this ordinance becomes law, police officers will still have the ability to make arrests or issue state criminal citations for marijuana possession as circumstances warrant, which is a Class A misdemeanor under state law.At least one state lawmaker said he believes the ordinance does not protect everyone equally if the decision is still up to an officer’s discretion.

Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown, said he is considering moving to pull highway funding from cities that pass similar laws. He added state marijuana laws would not change.

Supporters of the bill rallied and marched before Tuesday’s meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, the council also approved the Google-backed One Touch Make Ready Ordinance. Click here to read more.

Stay with Channel 4 and for updates to this story.

Copyright 2016 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.