Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) wants to legalize it.
Akbari filed a bill
in the state legislature on Friday that would decriminalize low-level possession offenses and legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Akbari’s bill is modeled after Colorado’s laws.
If approved, the legislation would put a 12 percent tax on the sale of marijuana. Half of the taxes generated would be applied to public school funding, roughly a third would apply to road and bridge projects, and 20 percent would be returned to the state’s general fund.
“This legislation makes criminal justice more fair, creates thousands of Tennessee jobs, and invests real money in our students and teachers,” Akbari said. "With marijuana now available closer and closer to our state, it’s time for Tennesseans to have a real discussion about repealing outdated penalties for low-level possession and investing in our economic future and public schools through legalization.”
Tennessee General Assembly
Sen. Raumesh Akbari
The bill is not finalized, but Akbari said the goal is to “stop wasting tax dollars on a failed drug policies and to start creating economic and educational opportunities for Tennessee families” and address concerns related to potential drug use.
“Tennessee’s tough-on-crime possession laws have trapped too many of our citizens in cycles of poverty, and they haven’t actually stopped anyone from obtaining marijuana,” Akbari said. “The enforcement of these laws in particular [has] cost our state billions, contributed to a black market that funds criminal organizations, and accelerated the growth of incarceration in Tennessee’s jails and prisons. Tennesseans deserve better.”
In the draft of the bill, state regulators would be responsible for developing policies related to commercial sales of marijuana here. The legislation is not yet scheduled for debate.