TN State Senators Push For Changes In Marijuana Legislation

TENNESSEE, (WDEF)-Senate Bill 1211 and House Bill 873 could drastically change the lives of  marijuana users in the volunteer state.

The companion bills are being pushed by State Senators Jeff Yarbro and  Harold Love.

Harold Love, District 58, (D),"Best case scenario we will have the amount moved from a half ounce to 1 ounce and that will make it a  misdemeanor for an ounce or less just a hundred dollar fine and after your third misdemeanor you will then be required to do community service at a drug rehabilitation facility."

The proposed legislation would also see reduced restrictions on "casual exchange" of marijuana.

Chattanooga drug abuse counselor Pat Fitzpatrick believes the time is right to introduce both bills.

"I am not for the use of marijuana by adolescents but I do think if its decriminalized, legislated, taxed I think that’s the real incentive behind it."

Fitzpatrick feels regulated marijuana use would discourage the abuse of harder substances in Tennessee.

"From Afghanistan, from Mexico, its already in Chattanooga, East Ridge hospital told me last week they had treated ten heroin overdoses most of them young people, that scares me."

Roger Helle of Teen Challenge feels the proposed reduced penalties for marijuana possession are dangerous and unnecessary.

"Are we willing to pay the price in treatment costs, incarceration costs in crime, there will be a ripple effect while it sounds good and it sounds reasonable there are always those unforeseen consequences."

  State Senator Jeff Yarbro was unavailable for interview but released the following statement to News 12.

     "We are seeing young people have their lives upended by felony records over something that’s increasingly legal in other parts of the country".

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