Published on September 24th, 2015 | by News Feed
West Palm Beach Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession
Florida is known as one of the harshest areas in the country when it comes to marijuana punishment. Long seen as a gateway drug there are many in the Florida legislature that feel marijuana needs to be removed altogether and the talk about legality needs to be thrown out. In many cases Florida has served as the high water mark for states that would like to increase their marijuana arrests and punishments.
On Tuesday of this week, West Palm Beach did something that several other Florida towns have already done. The city decided that they are no longer going to arrest and try individuals who have been busted with marijuana. According to the new ruling any offense that occurs within the city limits, and any offender who is caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana, will no longer be subjected to arrest, court, and prison time. Instead the offender will be given a citation for $100 dollars. The offender will also face zero criminal record issues. Many are calling this a win and a step in the right direction.
While several Florida towns are adopting this approach to handling the marijuana issues it needs to be understood that Florida law demands that any person found with any amount marijuana must be arrested, given a $1000 dollar fine, and they must face a mandatory 1-year prison term. According to the Florida ACLU, over 60,000 arrests have been made every year for marijuana possession. This is the third highest rate in the country.
The new ordinance approved by the West Palm Beach officials is not new. It is a measure that is very similar to the measures that have been adopted by other towns. In July of 2015 Miami-Dade officials adopted the same language and they have started to cite marijuana users and not arrest them. In Miami-Dade marijuana arrests accounted for 11% of all arrests in the county.
In lockstep with other cities and towns, Key West, Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach have all adopted the same type of measures. They are no longer criminalizing the people that are using small amounts of marijuana.
According to NORML, the largest activist group in Florida, the group is planning to continue the battle. They are planning to have a ballot initiative in 2016 that will decriminalize all aspects of marijuana and will make it legal for marijuana to be produced and sold to anyone over 18.
Marijuana is a huge topic these days and many are feeling that this topic could become a huge player in the Presidential politics of this year and next. Many of the candidates from both parties are offering different views and thoughts although most are walking the party line when it comes to federal enforcement of laws.