Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd is planning to introduce a city ordinance that would institute a civil penalty for possessing or selling small amounts of marijuana within the city limits.
The ordinance, which will be introduced in the council's public safety committee on Tuesday, August 23rd, would effectively decriminalize possession or "casual exchange of less than one-half ounce of marijuana in the City of Memphis," according to a news release issued by Boyd's council staff on Wednesday. Those caught with a small amount of weed would face a $50 civil penalty and possible community service rather than facing criminal charges.
"Councilman Boyd 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," reads the release.
A similar ordinance is also being considered in Nashville.
Currently, those convicted of less than an ounce of pot in Tennessee face a misdemeanor charge and the possibility of up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine. Anything above a half-ounce is a felony.