When it comes to marijuana legalization in Nashville, the debate is largely a matter of degree.
A new poll conducted by Vanderbilt University found that 85 percent of Nashvillians support some form of legalization, whether for recreation or medical use.
Only 13 percent of respondents said it should not be legal at all.
That's interesting so far as it goes, but it bumps up against a mellow-harshing reality: The Tennessee state legislature disagrees and is decidedly opposed to giving cities like Nashville leeway to make its own laws on the issue.
Medical marijuana legislation — albeit Republican-sponsored — died for the year last week, a day before the state House approved legislation blocking laws in Nashville and Memphis that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.
If you thought this might finally be the year medical marijuana passed the Legislature, backed by a rural Republican, Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby, and a Nashville Republican, Sen. Steve Dickerson — well, you were wrong.
At the beginning of the session, after Faison's high-profile trip to Colorado last summer to see medical marijuana in action and after the state Senate caucus spent a massive amount of money to ensure Dickerson's re-election, it seemed like there could maybe, just maybe, be progress. Nashville
Democrat Rep. Sherry Jones had repeatedly introduced medical marijuana bills in recent years, but with Republicans on the case — and one of them a traditionally staunch conservative — the bill seemed to have more credibility.
Then Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney General. Sessions has promised that the Department of Justice won't look the other way at states legalizing marijuana for any purpose.
That gave opponents of the bill yet another reason to oppose — why start on the path to legalization with a DOJ poised to crack down on enforcement?