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Marijuana decriminalization; Tennessee vs federal law creates confusion

Marijuana - Pixabay.jpg
Marijuana - Pixabay.jpg
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A movement to legalize marijuana has been growing in the U.S. since the late 20th century.

California became the first state to legalize it for medical use, then several states followed.

And almost 30 years later 18 states have legalized marijuana.

We looked into what recent moves by both federal and state legislators mean for decriminalization in Tennessee.

“This is consistent with many states across the country and also addresses the injustices of it," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a press conference.

On Friday the U.S. House passed legislation to decriminalize marijuana.

Here in Tennessee, things are different as the same state bill was taken off the table.

"The issue of marijuana has been contentious and divisive up here for years and years and within the country," said Rep. Bruce Griffey (R).

As marijuana legalization takes a step back in Tennessee some want it legalized to see less criminal activity.

"There are so many people in prison, African American males in prison for marijuana charges, strictly because of that," said Sheila Truelove.

Other efforts have been made to regulate Cannabis in Tennessee.

A recently proposed Republican-led bill advanced that would decrease the amount of Delta 8 THC in legally available products to .3%.

"I'm not banning Delta 8 THC or any other type of THC in this bill. We're just setting an upper limit of .3%," said Rep. William Lamberth (R).

A Tennessee bill to legalize marijuana was just taken off the table and Senator Heidi Campbell, a sponsor of that bill, says 80% of Tennesseans support legalization.

She adds that there's an ongoing battle between state legislators who have conservative and progressive values.

"They think that any drug is just a gateway. So I think there's a lot of fear there. And not an unwillingness to look at the data," said Sen. Heidi Campbell (D).

Republican Rep. Bruce Griffey says he's not in favor of recreational use or decriminalization and before any decision about marijuana is made, he wants public input.

"I just would encourage this entire body to get the input from the citizens what they would like us to do on this," said Rep. Griffey.

But advocates like John Kerns with New Bloom Labs in Chattanooga say legalization would bring in massive revenue for the state.

"Less Cannabis prohibition and more decriminalization would only provide much more economic benefit not only to my company but to thousands of others," said Kerns.

The legislation to decriminalize marijuana still needs to pass through the U.S. Senate in order to be fully passed and it's narrowly divided between both parties.

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Currently, there are 19 states that have legalized recreational use and 37 allow for medical marijuana use.

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