Despite making its way to the House floor, a bill that would reduce the penalty for small amounts of possession of marijuana failed to receive adequate support on Monday.

The legislation sought to increase the amount of marijuana that Tennesseans can possess to an ounce before they face felony charges.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Antonio Parkinson and Sen. Sara Kyle, both Memphis Democrats, faltered despite support from members of both parties.

Twenty-three Democrats and 21 Republicans, including House Majority Leader Glen Casada and House GOP Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams, voted in favor of the bill, which fell short of the constitutional majority needed for approval.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, was among eight lawmakers who did not vote on the legislation.

The bill’s failure was a rare defeat on the floor of the House – most legislation that makes it to the floor of either chamber typically is approved by lawmakers.

Current law punishes anyone who possesses anywhere from a half-ounce to 10 pounds of marijuana with a felony and charges them with intent to distribute.

Under Parkinson’s legislation, a person could still be charged with intent to distribute if there is evidence of such activity. It lowered the penalty for carrying an ounce of marijuana or less to a misdemeanor.

The legislation was anticipated to save the state about $793,000.

Although the House failed to ultimately pass the measure, if it had, the bill’s future was murky. The legislation was shelved for the year in the Senate last month, putting the measure in limbo.

The effort by Parkinson comes as lawmakers from both parties have worked on various criminal justice-related bills in recent years. Gov. Bill Haslam has said he plans on incorporating criminal justice reform in his legislative agenda next year.

Reach Joel Ebert at jebert@tennessean.com or 615-772-1681 and on Twitter @joelebert29.

Read or Share this story: http://tnne.ws/2oSPboa