Hamilton Co. Grand Jury recommends legalizing pot - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton Co. Grand Jury recommends legalizing pot

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Legalizing marijuana is always a hot topic and for the first time in history, national research shows the majority of people in favor of it.

The Hamilton County Grand Jury for the first quarter of the year just concluded. After hearing more than 600 cases, they submitted recommendations to Judge Rebecca Stern, that they think would improve the county's criminal justice system.

That's standard procedure, but there's one recommendation that's getting a lot of attention and it has to do with legalizing certain amounts of marijuana.

Tennessee is one of 26 states that makes no exception to marijuana; medical or recreational, it's against the law.

"I don't think it should be legalized because our people are acting foolish enough right about now, so just adding it to make it legal, everybody would be trying to get it then and we don't need it," Chattanooga resident Kathryn Gladden says.

For the first time in 40 years of surveying the issue, the majority of Americans are in favor of making pot legal.

"I think if it was legal, I think there would be less crime and less people would have to go out of their way to try to obtain it," Chattanooga resident Justin Slavens says.

The latest Grand Jury report out of Hamilton County shows a similar view.

Among its recommendations, one reads, "In order to reduce the number of cases heard by the Grand Jury, and reduce the number of cases proceeding to Criminal Court, the state legislature should consider legalizing the possession of a small amount of marijuana, which is not packaged for resale."

"It's a start, but I don't think it's going to impact much of anything," Chattanooga Attorney Robin Flores says.

Flores says he gets new clients every week charged with possession of marijuana and he's just one attorney. He says without those, the legal process would move along a lot faster for other cases.

"Any reduction would be kind of a relief valve," Flores says.

He says he's not on either side of the debate, but he does not think Tennessee will be joining the other 24 states and D.C. in legalizing marijuana, no matter how small the amount.

"You can have a small amount and sell it to somebody and it becomes an E Felony, so I don't see that recommendation going anywhere," Flores says.

Channel 3 spoke to one of the people who served on that grand jury.

She says she has no idea who recommended that because each individual juror wrote their recommendations down and turned them into the foreman, who submitted the report.

The foreman told us he was not allowed to discuss the matter.

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