Memphis & Nashville Decriminalize Cannabis, State Lawmaker Retaliates

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (Gram Parson’s cannabis plant-emblazoned jacket)

By Joan Eberhardt

Memphis, Nashville Decriminalize Cannabis, State Lawmaker Furious

Lovely centers of the best things about Tennessee, namely music and barbeque, Memphis and Nashville’s local legislatures have passed measures that would decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in those cities. The new laws would replace the penalty for being caught with under one ounce of cannabis with a small fine or community service, rather than a misdemeanor and $2,500 fine. State Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottonworth) has said he is considering writing a bill that would prevent those cities from receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in highway funds, if the local legislation goes into effect. Lamberth is the chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee. “It will create two standards of justice where at the whim of an officer, one person may face a $50 fine, the next person found with a small amount of marijuana could face up to 11 months and 29 days in jail,” Lamberth said.

Creating Diversity ASAP in Maryland

Lawmakers in Maryland intend to make more diversity in its legal cannabis industry as soon as possible. After the state issued the total proposed permits to grow cannabis, it came to light that not one single permit was issued to an African-American owned business. In a state where 30 percent of the residents are African-American, Del. Sheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore) sees this as a grievous oversight. When the medical marijuana laws were passed in Maryland language was included that the industry should “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the industry. Rather than take licenses away from businesses that have already been awarded them Glenn is working with the Black Legislative Caucus on emergency legislation that would create more opportunities for businesses owned by minorities in time for the industry to take off. “This is a good modern-day civil rights fight,” Glenn told The Washington Post. “We are not going to delay anything, but are going to make sure it’s fair.” House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are both supportive of creating immediate diversity in Maryland’s cannabis industry.

Human Trafficking on California Medical Marijuana Farm

Two women were arrested and charged with holding four brothers captive to work on their illegal marijuana farm in Northern California. Two men are still being sought in connection to the operation where four men, all brothers, were held captive and beaten while being made to work on a small farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Held for six months, the men say they were beaten by their captors on at least three occasions, and escaped in mid-July when they overheard that they were going to be killed after the harvest. Guadalupe Sierra Arellano, 43, and Medarda Urbieta, 44, did not enter pleas when they were charged in court with human trafficking, kidnapping, battery with serious bodily injury, terrorist threats and drug charges. Authorities said they destroyed 23,000 plants worth up to $60 million. A small religious shrine was also found on the site that is common with the Mexican drug cartels, and the road to the farm was guarded by armed men.

Quick Puffs

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