Has Tennessee had enough prohibition?
In April 2013, a Hamilton County grand jury recommended that possession of small amounts of marijuana should be legalized. In its report to Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern, the panel stated that such a move would reduce the burden on the courts, and it suggested the legislature consider taking such a measure.
If you agree it’s time for a better approach, tell your legislators you support a sensible system that would legalize marijuana for adults and regulate and tax it similarly to alcohol.
In 2011, state law enforcement agencies reported 21,239 marijuana-related arrests, 85% of which were for possession. During the same year, 87.4% of all burglaries and nearly 82% of all reported motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. Aside from distracting law enforcement from serious crime, the added costs for paying law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, court staff, jailors, and paying for jail facilities themselves create a tremendous burden on taxpayers. Prohibition has never worked, it doesn’t work now, and its time for a better, common sense approach. In a recent poll by Pew Research, over half of Americans favor treating marijuana like alcohol – by taxing and regulating it.
It’s also time for Tennesseans to again try to protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens – its seriously ill patients – from prosecution for using marijuana as medicine. A Fox News poll published in May 2013 found that 85% of Americans support the use of medical marijuana when a doctor recommends it. A survey of doctors on WebMD recently found that three-quarters of the physicians surveyed would recommend marijuana for some patients. But following the primary election defeat of both Rep. Richardson and Sen. Marrero in 2012, no new state representative or senator has been willing to stand up on behalf of patients in the state. Please contact your legislators and ask them to sponsor medical marijuana legislation in Nashville.
If you’d like to know more about marijuana policy in Tennessee, or are looking for ways to get involved, sign up for our free email alert service for all the latest information and advocacy tools. If you or a loved one share a personal connection to this issue and would like to help by sharing your story with others, please send an email to email@example.com that includes your name, address, description of your medical condition(s), and phone number at which you can be contacted. You can also head over to our action center for more ways to get involved, such as writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.
Marijuana laws in Tennessee
Did you know that in Tennessee possession of any amount of marijuana — even as little as a single gram — can land you in prison for up to a year, with a mandatory fine of between $250 and $2,500? Tens of thousands of cases enter the system each year, families are impacted, and futures jeopardized. You can read more about the negative consequences of Tennessee's marijuana laws in this excellent profile by Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
Also, be sure to check out this ACLU report that shows the extent to which marijuana laws are used to target members of the African American community in Tennessee. For every white person arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2001, there was an average of 1.8 black arrests. By 2010, there were four African Americans arrested for every white arrested. Studies have shown that rates of marijuana use among blacks and whites are approximately the same.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. To receive news about Tennessee marijuana policy reform as it happens, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service if you haven’t already.