City considers again to demonstrate support for statewide decriminalization of marijuana


CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Clarksville City Council is once again considering supporting statewide decriminalization of marijuana and encouraging the Clarksville Police Department to use simple possession and ‘lowest application priority’ occasional exchange.

The resolution, sponsored by Ward 12’s Trisha Butler, would not change any laws, but it does express support for state-level decriminalization, which is expected to be echoed by the Tennessee General Assembly.

Create a precedent

The city put the decriminalization of marijuana as an “item of interest” on its legislative agenda in September, calling on state lawmakers to repeal by referendum the ATT 39-17-418, which classifies possession of small amounts of marijuana, up to half an ounce, as a Class A misdemeanor, and formal trade with a minor as a felony.

Butler told council members his resolution would solidify the city’s stance on marijuana reform and inspire state lawmakers to move forward.

“This resolution sets a precedent that state lawmakers have called for. This is how we effect change at the state level, ”Butler said Tuesday.

This is no different from a resolution presented to the county next week calling on state lawmakers to change some laws giving the county the power to authorize alcohol and wine through beverage and retail sale. alcohol and wine outside the city limits, part of their own legislative program.

Return of commission

The resolution was originally presented in February of this year, when it was referred to the then untrained Legislative Liaison Committee following lengthy debate.

At the time, council members expressed concerns about the resolution placing demands on law enforcement and asked Butler if she had consulted with the CPD leadership. Others have suggested that these resolutions are only statements and lack legislative weight.

“Clarksville, your city council has silenced your voice on cannabis as the state legislature passes three decriminality / legalization bills. Why? Bureaucratic bull and fear, ”Butler said in a Facebook post following that February meeting.

During their executive session on Tuesday, Butler told council members that his resolution should have been returned to council after 30 days, and that local government action is needed to push state lawmakers to act.

“This resolution is not toothless. Many of the resolutions we pass carry weight, ”said Butler. “Even resolutions that establish the meaning of the council carry the weight of our positions and we should never take this lightly. ”

Council displays cautious support

Feedback from Council members on the resolution has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly with regard to support for state-wide decriminalization.

“The reality is that cannabis doesn’t hurt any more than alcohol or tobacco, and those things are regulated. Many of our prisons and systems are already overcrowded with non-violent offenders, and this directly harms our populations of color, ”said Ashlee Evans of Room 11.

Other council members expressed concerns about asking law enforcement and the district attorney to enforce the laws in a certain way.

City attorney Lance Baker told council the resolution does not prevent the CPD from enforcing the laws. Rather, he suggests a policy change for the CPD.

“You give directions and instructions to the chief of police not to enforce the law, but to make the charges of simple possession and occasional exchange the lowest priority, which, frankly, I suspect is already the case, “said Baker.

Several council members expressed interest in amending the resolution to focus on communicating with state lawmakers rather than directing law enforcement.

The head of the CPD intervenes

Police Chief David Crockarell was in attendance at Thursday’s meeting and addressed many of the concerns.

“We are obliged to uphold the law. The district attorney too, ”Crockarell told council members. “We don’t choose which laws are good and which laws are bad. We just apply them.

In response to questions from board members, Crockarell said marijuana is already “on the low end” for CPD.

“Please write a shoplifting order. We take care of this 10 times more than low-grade marijuana. Said Crockarell. “Most arrests are made because they are under arrest for something else, or because it is a domestic incident and they have marijuana in their pocket. Low potency marijuana is not part of our outreach plan.

Crockarell went on to say that there is a link between marijuana and violent crime in Montgomery County.

“I am not going to leave this podium without letting you know that there is gun violence around marijuana and people are being killed in this county because of marijuana.”

The city council will vote on the issue during its ordinary session on Thursday, December 2 at 6 p.m.

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