New bill could legalize marijuana in Tennessee

TENNESSEE — A bill filed on Friday in the state senate would legalize marijuana in Tennessee.

It’s proposed by Senator Raumesh Akbari of Memphis.

If passed, the bill would allow businesses to sell less than one half an ounce to customers who are 21 and older.

State Representative Antonio Parkinson said he supports the bill especially since it would tax the sales with the money going towards education and infrastructure.

“More businesses would open, more opportunities for people and it's key to make sure everyone has an opportunity to get in business if it passes,” said Representative Parkinson.

It also proposes a sales tax with 50 percent of the revenue going to education, 30 percent to infrastructure and 20 percent to the state's general fund.

“The economic impact would be incredible for the state tourism, it would be incredible for the state,” said Parkinson.

Still some opponents worry this would increase the number of people driving under the influence of drugs.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol data the number of drug-impaired crashes increased by 89 percent from 2010 to 2015

In 2015, 174 people died in drug-related crashes, while 136 died from alcohol-related crashes

“It's going to give you slower reaction, the ability to not be able to react and think clearly,” said retired Shelby county captain Bennie Cobb.

He said he doesn’t believe legalization will increase the number of drug-related crashes.

“People are doing it anyways and are going to do it anyways,” said Cobb.

Overall, both think this will impact Tennessee in a positive way.

“I would hate to see Tennessee last to the table in this case,” said Parkinson.

According to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website the bill was introduced and passed on first consideration.

Fox 13 asked Governor Bill Lee about his thoughts on the bill but he said he didn’t have the chance to look at it yet.