Fines Instead Of Jail: This City Decriminalized Marijuana Possession
After 80 years of cannabis prohibition and stigmatization, some municipalities across the country are finally taking action to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Mayor Buckhorn the badass
In the City of Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn expressed that “incarcerating people, particularly young people, for a very small amount of marijuana, absolutely alters their career path for the rest of their life.” He further explained, “Once they get into that prison system, they are forever scarred; they forever have a prison record.” Not only did Mayor Buckhorn acknowledge that saddling harmless stoners with life-long criminal records is stupid and bad for society as a whole, but he actually did something about it.
Recently, Buckhorn signed into law an ordinance that allows police officers to fine people found with up to 20 grams of marijuana, instead of throwing them in jail. Basically, under the new law, if you’re caught within the legal limit, you are fined $75 for a first offense. That fine then rises to $150 for a second offense, $300 for the third, and $450 for subsequent violations.
The caveat to the law is that the ordinance is only applicable when marijuana possession is “the only chargeable offense.” This means that if you are doing something stupid like starting a bar brawl while you are in possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, you could go to jail for a year and be fined $1000. Fortunately, if you have already smoked any of the 20 grams of marijuana in your pocket (especially indica) the chances of you leaving your couch, let alone starting a bar fight should be minimized.
Save the stoners
This is not just going to mean that minor offenders won’t have their employment and housing threatened, but it will also save the City of Tampa money and resources that would have otherwise been spent on the incarceration of stoners. This means that they can allocate resources to stopping real crime, as opposed to being the ultimate buzz kill for a kid about to kill a Costco-sized bag of Cheetos. The bummer of it all is that the state of Florida still considers anybody caught holding a small amount of marijuana a “low-level criminal.”
At least six other Florida communities including Miami-Date and Palm Beach are adopting similar laws. This all just goes to show that all it takes is one brilliant politician to stick his neck out and acknowledge the stupidity of the status quo and other politicians will follow suit. Also, if municipalities in a state like Florida can manage to decriminalize minor marijuana possession than any state can do it. It just takes someone waking up and smelling the (marijuana) flowers.
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