Chattanooga community activist launches effort to decriminalize recreational marijuana

Community activist Marie Mott.

Community activist Marie Mott has launched an online petition calling for the decriminalization, in the city of Chattanooga, for up to an ounce of marijuana.

Mott, who ran unsuccessfully in this year’s District 8 city council race, plans to present the petition–once it reaches 2,500 signatures–to newly-elected Mayor Tim Kelly and members of Chattanooga City Council.

“We have a newly elected Mayor Tim Kelly who promised to decriminalize marijuana locally,” Mott said. “He needs to make good on that promise. Let’s stop locking people up for a plant.”

The petition, which shows more than 1,700 signatures at press time, reads: “Recently elected mayor Tim Kelly of Chattanooga, TN made several campaign promises in order to get elected. One being, an expectation I proposed as a city council candidate with the decriminalization of marijuana up to an ounce. Innovative cities such as Nashville have decriminalized 1/2 of an ounce. We can do better! State legislation is already proposing this initiative and Chattanooga should be lock in step with our state.

Chattanooga needs to evolve into a city ready for the future. A futuristic city does not criminalize its citizens and lock them up over a plant.”
A growing number of states are making the recreational use of marijuana and its medical use, or even both, legal. However, in Chattanooga, legalization still remains a divisive and somewhat controversial issue.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond is on record stating that he is against both the medical and recreational use of marijuana.

“I think the facts and the studies are not in on what this does to the young people, especially as they’re still in the process of formulating brain cells, at least through the teen years,” Hammond said in a published statement. “As an adult, I’ve seen too many negatives personally on what it does to people’s thinking, their lifestyle, as a gateway drug to other drugs. I don’t see any reason to approve it, and I am personally opposed to it.”

Mott, Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams and several other peaceful protesters from a May 30 Black Lives Matter rally–sparked by the police-involved death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020–are facing misdemeanor charges of blocking a highway, disorderly conduct and vandalism.

The social justice protesters had their cases bound over to the Grand Jury last week when Senior Judge Don Ash found there was probable cause that they blocked an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) vehicle from going through an intersection and did not obey police orders.

Mott and Williams had additional charges, which were brought by District Attorney Neal Pinkston and related to their alleged role in a July 9 flag burning, bound over to the Grand Jury.

Mayor Kelly did not respond to phone and email requests for comment in time for the Chattanooga News Chronicle deadline.