The attitude around marijuana may be shifting, but on the federal level, it has not.
Marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic, with the likes of LSD and Heroine. It’s also now legal for recreational use in 10 states.
Now, law enforcement is caught in the middle.
“No matter what the states do, the federal government has marijuana as an illegal drug,” noted Franklin County Sheriff, Tim Fuller. “So, what some of our states are doing is sending a mixed message.”
Sheriff Fuller has fought pot for decades, now attempting to stem a tide coming from all directions.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 37 years and it’s been a problem for 37 years,” he said. “There’s more coming by way of mail, postal service, UPS, FedEx, we’ve run into more of that than we used to.”
It’s a trend rising all across the state. According to the TBI, in 2017 drug and narcotics violations rose by just over 6%.
The vast majority of drugs seized, nearly a third, were for marijuana.
Despite the resources used on weed, the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association is against recreational use.
Sheriff Fuller is the association’s legislative chairman. He cites the drug’s sometimes addictive nature, and what’s been known to follow after use.
“90 percent of the people that are in our drug court program will tell you that, marijuana was their introductory gateway to the drug community,” Sheriff Fuller explained. “It’s totally different. The strength or the potency is totally different than the marijuana of the 60s, and the 70s, and the 80s even.”
Those concerns are echoed by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference.
District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn spoke before the House Criminal Justice Committee in Nashville just last year, where he cited several weed DUI cases.
He claims many of those he serves, believe current laws around marijuana, aren’t harsh enough.
“So, I deal with that, want y’all to understand that,” Dunn said. “I deal with that on a daily basis.”
While it may be a way’s away here in Tennessee, Fuller hopes the state truly studies weed, and what the potential pitfalls could be.
“We all look at it from a safety standpoint,” he said. “I hear this quite often, will this is the fix for the opioid problem. No, you’re trading one addiction for the other basically is what you’re doing.”