Clarksville city council supports marijuana decriminalization, legislation for medicinal use

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The Clarksville city council voted Thursday night in support of decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana, adding support of medicinal reasonings.

The decriminalization resolution, sponsored by Trisha Butler, passed 9-1 with three abstentions. The "no" vote came from Mayor Joe Pitts, while the three abstained votes were from Wallace Redd, Travis Holleman and Stacey Streetman.

The resolution will request Tennessee General Assembly to pass legislation to decriminalize simple possession or casual exchange of marijuana for personal use.

Clarksville city council votes on resolution for marijuana decriminalization, legislation for medicinal use Dec. 2, 2021
Clarksville city council votes on resolution for marijuana decriminalization, legislation for medicinal use Dec. 2, 2021

During the meeting, several sections of the resolutions were removed before the vote. Before removal, the initial version said that simple possession or casual exchange of marijuana for personal use, "should be the lowest enforcement priority," for Clarksville Police Department.

Also stated: the district attorney should take an, "active stance or position of not prosecuting persons for simple possession or casual exchange of marijuana for personal use."

The amended resolution adds verbiage to support legalization for medicinal elements.

Butler told The Leaf-Chronicle that though she is a proponent of full legalization of marijuana, there is no part of the resolutions asking for that.

The amended resolution states that the city council finds that medical cannabis has been proven to be effective in alleviating side effects and symptoms from a wide range of conditions and illness. Some including chemotherapy, PTSD, seizures and more, the resolution states.

"It's for the good of the people. It's people who need this for medicine," Butler said.

Generally, Butler also mentioned how minorities are inordinately targeted and incarcerated for marijuana.

The resolution states that the city council found data from the American Civil Liberties Union showing marijuana usage is, "roughly equal among whites and Blacks in the United States, but Blacks are 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites."

In Tennessee, possession of half an ounce of marijuana or less is a misdemeanor.

"I want this (legislative) body to send forward a resolution that our majority is happy with," Butler said.

Councilpersons who returned abstained votes for the resolution stated that it should be discussed with Tennessee lawmakers personally, not through legislation. Also, Redd stated there could be a conflict of interest on the city council if any members own related stock.

"We have that ability to reach out to them (state representatives) and let them know our opinions or what we feel that they need to do on a state level," Streetman said.

"We need to focus on what we need here in Clarksville," she said. "We should be using this time, effort and energy doing what we need to fix the issues we have affecting us right here in Clarksville."

Alexis Clark can be reached at aclark@gannett.com or 931-217-8519.

This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: Clarksville council supports marijuana decriminalization, legislation for medicinal use