(Article by Tennessee River Valley News)
Here Republican Tennessee State Representative Bruce Griffey explains the rational behind his bill to let Tennesseans vote on the issue of whether to legalize pot:
A large number of states have legalized marijuana in some form or fashion.
Indeed, at least 36 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana, 18 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and another 13 states have decriminalized the use of marijuana.
Numerous bills have been presented in Tennessee over the years to address the legalization of medical marijuana as well as the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, which would amount to simple possession; however, all such bills, to date, have been killed in committee.
“Since being sworn into office in January 2019, I have received feedback from constituents on both sides of this issue.
A large number of constituents in my district have contacted me, requesting that I file and/or vote in favor of legislation to legalize marijuana in some manner; however, I also have constituents, who are very much opposed to legalization of marijuana in any form or fashion.
It is indicative to me that this is a controversial issue with Tennesseans on both sides of the issue and warrants going directly to citizens in this state to get their input in as fair and unbiased manner as possible,” explained Griffey.
“I have always firmly believed that government works for the people and legislators serve at the pleasure of their constituents to be their constituents’ voice – not their own personal voice or the voice of lobbyists -- at the Capitol.
I have found myself in several instances to have a personal opinion on an issue that conflicts with the majority opinion of my district and I vote in line with the majority opinion of my district because that is what I was elected to do and it is incumbent upon me to do so.
I have also been approached on several occasions by lobbyists or “leadership” or the Governor’s Administration to vote a certain way on legislation that conflicts with the majority opinion of my district, and I vote in line with the majority opinion of my district because that is what I was elected to do and it is incumbent upon me to do so.
For these very same reasons, I have filed legislation – House Bill 1634 – to add the issue of marijuana to the November 2022 ballot for all Tennessee voters to provide input.
Specifically, my newly filed House Bill 1634 would pose three questions to voters going to the polls across the state in the November 2022 election:
1. Should the State of Tennessee legalize medical marijuana? Yes or No
2. Should the State of Tennessee decriminalize possession of less than one ounce (1 oz.) of marijuana? Yes or No
3. Should the State of Tennessee legalize and regulate commercial sales of recreational use marijuana? Yes or No
My bill does not call for the legalization of marijuana.
Rather, it puts the issue directly in the hands of voters to decide, and I believe it is the obligation of the legislature to solicit, listen to and abide by the will of the majority of Tennesseans.
In fact, I want to be clear that, personally, I am against legalization of marijuana; however, my personal opinion should not dictate or rise above the opinion of others and I never have and never will allow it to do so.
In fact, I believe that there should be more ballot initiatives to ensure that our great state is run in accordance with the opinion and will of the majority of Tennesseans – not that of a handful of wealthy elite at the top and certainly not that of politicians or lobbyists. After all, in the great words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.’” Griffey concluded.