States Spend Hundreds Of Thousands On Welfare Drug Testing, Turn Up Barely Anything

As state legislatures convene across the country, proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far in Montana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

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Tennessee: Statewide Decriminalization Bill Introduced

(HT) Earlier last week, Senator Jeff Yarbro and Representative Harold Love introduced companion bills (House Bill 873 and Senate Bill 1211) in both chambers of the state legislature that would strip away the criminal penalties associated with the possession and “casual exchange” of up to an ounce of marijuana by replacing them with a fine.

Unfortunately, while the bills would do nothing in the way of establishing a taxed and regulated cannabis market, or even allow for home cultivation, they would amend the criminal statutes that make first-time possession of up to a half ounce of weed a Class A misdemeanor, which is currently punishable with a year in prison and fine up to $250.

Under the new law, anyone caught in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana would simply be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and be forced to pay a $100 fine.

The proposed changes to the law would also permit the “casual exchange” of up to an ounce of marijuana, which would make it legal for a person to provide their friends and family with weed as long as no money changed hands. Nothing in regards to the manufacture and sale of cannabis would be amended by this legislation – these crimes would remain felony offenses with the potential for hefty prison terms for anyone convicted.