Individuals who are found with small quantities of cannabis can now receive a civil fine rather than jail time in Florida’s biggest county, the first in the state to handle minimal marijuana possession as a no criminal offense.
The Miami-Dade County Commission approved a proposal Tuesday to let law officials issue $100 civil fine or the equivalent of community service hours for the possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana. County Commissioner Sally Heyman stated her measure looks to spare people of a criminals record and would reduce the economic issue on the criminal justice system.
“It’s just like a traffic ticket, you have a fine to pay, “she said. “It’s low enough that people can do community service.” The measure passed 10-3, with commissioner Javier Souto, Esteban Bovo and Rebeca Sosa voting against. Souto called it a “slippery slope” and commissioner Bovo stated the measure was a slap on the wrist. “I could see a teenager telling their parents, ‘it’s just a fine,'” stated Bovo. The choice to arrest will still be in the hands of the given officer. Law officials state they will have to create policies concurring when a civil fine is needed versus an arrest.
County Mayor Carlos Gimenez stated he backs the measure and stated he would like law officials to act on an arrest if a person is smoking pot in public.”It is still illegal, but it’s going to be handled in a different way,” he said. “It’s just another tool our officers can use.”
The measure will become effective in less than 2 weeks.
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