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New House bill seeks to decriminalize pot

A new House Bill presented last week seeks to decriminalize possession and casual exchange of less than one ounce of marijuana. (File Photo)

STATE NEWS — Tennessee currently exists as one of just six U.S. states to continue to consider marijuana fully illegal but a bill sponsored by State Representative London Lamar (D-Memphis) seeks to change that.

On Tuesday, Representative Lamar presented House Bill 413 seeking to decriminalize possession or casual exchange of less that one ounce of marijuana. Legally, casual exchange is defined as “spontaneously passing a small amount without the payment of money or other forms of payment,” according to the bill. The bill would only apply to marijuana in plant form and not other derivatives. The bill stops short of allowing the selling of marijuana in the state. To read the full text of House Bill 413, click here.

”Here in Tennessee, you’re less than two hours away from states where it’s completely legal,” Lamar said. “There are plenty of states around us who are already making moves to decriminalize or legalize small amounts of marijuana. It’s important that Tennessee is not behind all the rest of the states.”

Illinois fully legalized marijuana in May 2019 after allowing medical marijuana in 2014. Virginia and Missouri both allow medical marijuana sales and have decriminalized pot. Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri have all recently made moves to decriminalize possession. Alabama is the only state surrounding Tennessee where marijuana remains fully illegal.

Last July, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk announced that his office would no longer prosecute minor marijuana charges including possession of a half ounce of pot. It was a move that Nashville Mayor John Cooper was quick to cosign.

If this bill makes it through committees and passes both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly, it would be slated to take effect as early as July 1, 2021.

Moore County is part of the House of Representatives 39th District by Representative by Iris Rudder. If you would like to express your support or objection to HB 413, you can reach her via email at a link or her state website or by emailing here: rep.iris.rudder@capitol.tn.gov. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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