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Nashville and Memphis Go Separate Ways on Pot Enforcement


Trouble is brewing in Tennessee, where city councils in Nashville and Memphis recently passed marijuana decriminalization measures. While those measures gave police too much discretion (see Freedom Leaf coverage here), they at least showed a willingness to lessen penalties in a Bible Belt state.

But, on Nov. 16, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery stated that the ordinances passed by both cities are unenforceable due to conflict with state law. In response, Nashville decided to stick to its decriminalization ordinance, passed Sept. 20.

“We’ve reviewed the Attorney General’s opinion and understand his position,” the city’s Department of Law aw director Jon Cooper stated.

“However, we believe we have a good faith legal argument that the ordinance is not preempted by state law.”

Nashville police have so far given about 20 civil citations under the ordinance, reports a local Fox affiliate.

On the other hand, officials in Memphis quickly bowed to state pressure, issuing a press release saying: “We’ve received the Attorney General’s opinion on the marijuana ordinance, and are in the process of reviewing it to determine how we will move forward. For now, we’re suspending enforcement of the city ordinance.”

Memphis council member Berlin Boyd took issue with that decision: “As far as I am concerned, it’s still the law in the eyes of the City of Memphis, because we passed an ordinance and that means the ordinance is law,» he told WBTV

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