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Knox County Residents Given Chance to Legalize Marijuana

The Knox County Election Commission on Friday agreed to give residents a chance to vote on whether to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.

The vote, though, would be symbolic only since marijuana is still illegal in Tennessee.

Steve Cooper, who is spearheading the initiative, will now have until June 15 to get about 16,100 signatures from registered Knox County voters to put the two questions on the November ballot.

One question will ask whether recreational use of marijuana by people older than 21 should be allowed in Knox County.

"It’s kind of humorous with the recreational use because when you talk about alcohol or other substances, it’s just the legal use. No one talks about the recreational part of it," said Cooper, who will shoot for 20,000 signatures for each petition.

The other question concerns use of medical marijuana.

Chris Davis, assistant administrator of elections for the Knox County Election Commission, said his office will keep in regular contact with Cooper.

Davis said training, hiring “and putting people in a room for weeks on end to count signatures” will cost the county about $25,000.

Election officials said they want the ballot complete some time in September.

Cooper said Friday that he will begin collecting signatures this weekend.

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