ACLU Urges Nashville to Decriminalize Cannabis

The American Civil Civil Liberties Union is throwing its political and activism muscle behind decriminalizing personal amounts of cannabis in Nashville, Tennessee. This story hits home for me because I have long been a fan of the ACLU and served as president of the law school chapter at the University of Missouri-Columbia, when I co-authored measures that reformed cannabis laws in Columbia, Missouri in 2004.

From The Tennessean:

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, in a letter Thursday to Metro Council members, urged support for Nashville’s pending decriminalization ordinance, which is up for a key second of three votes in the Metro Council on Tuesday.

She argued the measure would help cut down incarceration rates of “low-level” offenders who have pushed Tennessee’s prison population to grown more than twice as fast as the state’s population over the past 15 years.

“Dangerous offenders belong behind bars,” Weinberg’s letter reads. “But many of the individuals in our jails and prisons are not there for violent crimes. By imposing a civil penalty — rather than a criminal one — for possession of half an ounce of marijuana or less, the ordinance would reduce the costly incarceration rate for this low-level, nonviolent violation as well as the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.”

Local decriminalization measures are very important for a wide variety of reasons. Most importantly, treating cannabis as a civil infraction, instead of a criminal offense, can keep some people out of prison and protect employment and educational opportunities. Even those that don’t use cannabis benefit because law enforcement priorities and saving tax dollars. Additionally, local political victories provide a foundation to push for broader statewide reform.

Good luck to cannabis law reform activists in Nashville! We’ll definitely be following your progress here at Weed News.

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 145 Articles
Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the Political Action Committee responsible for Oregon's Measure 91 cannabis legalization campaign and co-owner of Duff Johnson Consulting. As Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Anthony served on the state's initial Marijuana Advisory Committee and he continues to advocate for sensible policies that decrease unnecessary arrests, protect patients' safe access, and help small businesses. With Duff Johnson Consulting, Anthony helps cannabis farmers, processors, retailers, and ancillary businesses with licensing, compliance, public relations, and marketing. DJC clients include the International Cannabis Business Conference, the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, Cannabliss, Natural Roots, and numerous medical cannabis cultivators that provide free cannabis to patients in need.Anthony co-hosts the Let's Hash It Out podcast, available here on Weed News, at www.letshashitout.blog, Sound Cloud, iTunes, and Stitcher. Anthony's blogs on Weed News are personal and don't necessarily reflect the views of any organization or company.