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Resolution stopping state lawmakers from allowing recreational drug use passes committee, headed to vote

Representative Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) introduced House Joint Resolution 140, amending the state constitution to stop legislators allowing recreational drug use.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE: The proposal banning the use of recreational marijuana in Tennessee was passed in committee on Wednesday. It now heads to a vote.

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House Joint Resolution 0140 was approved by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Wednesday, which would amend the Tennessee constitution to prohibit recreational drug use if passed.

Since it would amend the state's constitution, future lawmakers would not be able to allow recreational drug use unless they change the constitution again. The resolution was introduced by Representative Benjamin Ogles (R-Franklin).

The resolution says that the general assembly would not be able to make laws that authorize rape, human trafficking, prostitution or the recreational use of any substance that was identified by the U.S. Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Agency, according to the federal Controlled Substances Act as it stands on Jan. 1, 2020.

Ogle said that the resolution would not prevent substances from being permitted in the state which are approved by licensed physicians and at the federal level.

"I know many members of this caucus and throughout Tennessee are exploring the aspects of medical substances. For my district and my home, that conversation can never be had until we put a stopgap in place," Ogle said. "This would do this. This would ensure that we never have recreational drug use in the state. I think it's very much the value system we have in the South. We just saw this erode in a state that borders us — Virginia."

A bill passed Virginia's legislature on Friday and is awaiting the Virginian governor's signature that would legalize marijuana use for adults. It would not go into effect until 2024.

A recent Gallup poll found that more Americans support legalizing marijuana use in the U.S., up to 68% compared to 66% from the year before. Most 18-29-year-olds support it, and 74% of households making more than $100,000 per year support it as well.

Ogle also said that the resolution would also address human trafficking and prostitution in the state. The resolution would prevent future legislators from making laws allowing prostitution.

"We don't know what's coming, or what's coming down the road," Ogles said during the subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. "We heard about human trafficking earlier and prostitution, and the horrific crimes that are the result of that. The constitutional amendment would put in place that we never let that slippery slope evolve anymore in this state."

Representative G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) voted against the resolution.