While Metro Nashville City Councilors were scheduled to take a final vote on decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana Tuesday night, some may wonder if Wilson County leaders would consider the same.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by Metro Councilors Dave Rosenberg, Freddie O'Connell and Russ Pulley, would make possession of a half an ounce of marijuana or less punishable by a $50 fine, which would be a civil penalty, instead of the State of Tennessee's law that carries misdemeanor charges, jail time up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, as well as others, have come out in favor of the proposal. However, there are still many who think it would be a bad idea.
So what would local leaders think of a similar proposal here?
Both Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and 57th District State Rep. Susan Lynn weighed in on the issue that is sure to be polarizing in coming years.
If these two West Wilson leaders are mini bellwethers, Wilson County or Mt. Juliet won't be rushing to locally push the legalized use of recreational weed like bigger venues Alaska, Oregon and Washington, among other states with laws legalizing the use of pot in some form.
Lynn, a Republican up for reelection in November, said pot "is proven to be a gateway drug and could lead to the use of other drugs."
"My husband owns a factory. An employee high on marijuana using equipment is really dangerous," Lynn said. "There would be worker's compensation issues."
She added there would be many policy concerns for employers and there is belief it "is much easier to tell if an employee has been drinking," compared to being high on weed.
On Monday she said she listened to a segment about this issue on conservative Morning Drive Talk Host Ralph Bristol on Super talk 99.7 WWTN, and it was revealed a half-ounce of marijuana could make at least 25 cigarettes.
"That's a lot," she said.
She noted a person could go from one place to another and buy half-ounces and end up having over a pound of pot at home. She added research has shown in Colorado, which legalized recreational use of pot in 2012, teen auto accidents were up significantly by "those high on marijuana."
Also, Lynn brought up a study a few years ago that showed schools in areas with legalized recreational use began to have difficulty getting students to try out for sports.
"They just wanted to stay home and get high," she said. "That's really disappointing."
Mayor Hagerty was pretty adamant about his feelings on the issue. He said he doesn't know the details, but he added Mt. Juliet doesn't "usually follow Nashville."
"If this is something similar to other states, I'd never be sponsoring it in Mt. Juliet," he said this week.
He does believe simple marijuana possession is dangerous. He likened possible use behind the wheel, "it's just like a DUI."
The mayor noted he was not surprised Nashville is on the way to possibly legalizing recreational use of small amounts of pot.
"Nashville is very different politically," he noted.
On a personal level, Lynn said she's never smoked pot, or even a regular cigarette.
"I promised my grandmother I would never smoke," she said. "And I've kept that promise."
"Many problems in the family dynamic stem from the use of alcohol and drugs," she added.
Lynn relayed a scenario that played out years ago when a friend "really pushed me to smoke pot."
"I did not," she said.
Today, that friend is a police officer, and when Lynn saw him recently he "apologized profusely" for that incident.
"He has so much respect for me," she said.
However, if it does come down to the nitty-gritty and the issue of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of weed in Tennessee, or locally, Lynn said she would have to "do research on places this has occurred and the affects of it all."
"I'm not on the judiciary committee," she said, noting this bill would never come before her personally for a vote. "However, I know people on that committee have experience on these matters and I would trust them."
But, she said she would become acquainted with some aspects of the bill as it tracked in her role as a Finance Committee member. Lynn is Chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee as well.
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