Memphis councilman to introduce ordinance to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Councilman Berlin Boyd plans to introduce an ordinance to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, representatives from Boyd’s office announced Wednesday.

He will introduce the ordinance in the Public Safety Committee at the next City Council meeting on August 23.

The ordinance would institute a $50 civil penalty for possessing or exchanging less than half an ounce of marijuana in Memphis.

There would also be the possibility of community service as a penalty.

Nothing would go on a criminal record.

Boyd said he “believes that it is time to recognize, as has been done in many other municipalities across the country, that bringing individuals into the burdensome and expensive criminal justice system is not commensurate with the crime of possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

Boyd said if a person is caught multiple times with the small amount of marijuana, then the civil judge could send the case to criminal court.

Right now, if you are caught with a half ounce of marijuana, it’s a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Boyd said his ordinance wouldn’t trump state law. It would only become a local law used based on the support of police.

WREG asked MPD and the district attorney what they thought about it, but we have yet to hear back.

Mayor Jim Strickland had no comment.

A similar ordinance is being discussed in Nashville.

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