Governor Lee doubles down on his stance against marijuana decriminalization

Updated: Mar. 8, 2019 at 10:28 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Governor Bill Lee is maintaining his stance on how he feels about Memphis State Senator Sarah Kyle’s bill that would decriminalize marijuana.

"I have said before and still believe that we should not decriminalize marijuana... I think that's not good for our state," said Lee.

Currently, Senate bill 256 and the house version hasn't had much movement since its' introduction back in January.

Tuesday, Memphis City Council was looking to change that.

A resolution was passed, encouraging the passage of a slew of cannabis bills including Kyle's.

"I think this is something we, as a body, should say we support this," said Martavious Jones, Memphis City Councilmen.

“Decriminalizing it, I fear, could encourage the use of it for our youth in the city,” said Ford Canale, Memphis City Councilmen.

Meanwhile, State Representative Antonio Parkinson is cautiously optimistic that his marijuana bill will pass.

"Let me be clear, this bill will not decriminalize marijuana, but it will remove the felony enhancement from simple possession," said Parkinson.

Current state law says possession of a half an ounce of marijuana is a felony charge.

Parkinson's bill would make anything under a one ounce a misdemeanor, as long as there is no evidence of intent to distribute such as scales or baggies.

"If we've got a little college student out there that's got a little marijuana on them, we don't want him receiving a felony, messing up his entire life," said Parkinson.

Parkinson filed this same bill last year. It's the first marijuana bill to make it to the house floor.

He says focusing on taking away the felony charge for simple possession is the best way to start the efforts towards decriminalization.

Parkinson’s bill will go before the criminal justice subcommittee next Wednesday.

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