Bills would decriminalize marijuana in Florida

Marijuana - HB 1403, decriminalization, marijuana, ocala news, florida marijuana, marion county
Marijuana – HB 1403 and SB 1662

Florida — Under the new bills, marijuana could soon be decriminalized in Florida.

Two Florida lawmakers said they want a total overhaul of Florida’s marijuana laws.

Congressman Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) and Senator Jeff Clements (D-Lake Worth) filed two bills — HB 1403 and SB 1662 — the first week of March that would decriminalize possession of marijuana in small amounts — one ounce, 28.34 grams or less.

Currently, anything over 20 grams is a third degree felony. Less than 20 grams would be a misdemeanor, which imposes a $1,000 fine and or a year in jail.

With the new bills, juveniles caught with marijuana would be required to complete 15 hours of community service. Adults would have to pay a civil penalty of no more than $100, and or 15 hours of community service.

HB 1403 and SB 1662, re-categorizes misdemeanor possession offenses as non-criminal civil violations.

As Ocala Post has previously reported, cities in Miami-Dade, Volusia, and Alachua counties have already decriminalized marijuana. Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Port Richey are also among those that have decriminalized marijuana.

Marion County commissioners have stated in that past that they had no intention of locally decriminalizing marijuana.

Marion County currently has the highest incarceration rate in the state.

In 2016, just under  40,000 Floridians were arrested for misdemeanor drug offenses. Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that more than 90 percent of those arrests were for marijuana possession.

Rep Smith released the following statement:

“39,706 Floridians were arrested in 2016 for low-level cannabis possession. These draconian marijuana possession laws have wasted taxpayer dollars, unnecessarily filled up our state prison system, and distracted law enforcement from focusing on apprehending dangerous criminals. We should be creating opportunities for people to succeed– not creating obstacles and ruining lives over minor infractions or youthful indiscretions. It is past time for the legislature to end the unjust incarceration of Floridians for non-violent drug offenses. If Amendment 2 was any indication, public opinion on marijuana has changed drastically over the years. Tallahassee politicians must catch up with where a majority of Floridians already are.”

On March 10, 2017, the bills were referred to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

We want to hear from you. What do you think about the new bill?

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  • harry

    smart 1st step

  • Karen M

    I am anti- ‘anything’ that encourages youth to start a ‘bad’ habit’. but I also agree that our State laws are too harsh, and our jails are full of people who aren’t ‘bad’ people but people who made a bad choice (driving with cannibis or paraphenalia in the car when the law says the officer has no choice but to make an arrest!) I think they need to de-criminilize the use .

    • dakingof

      How is it a bad habbit if it helps someone with ADD/ADHD concentrate on things that would normally be mundane to them? It’s how the herb is used that can be a problem.. not the herb itself. Even drinking too much water can kill you… smoking or eating too much cannabis won’t. Think about that.

    • harry

      actually in states that have medical and recreational, studies and stats say teen use is down.

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  • Fred

    As long as Lawyers make money on Marijuana being illegal, it will never be decriminalized. With over 300,000 laws that apply to individuals and “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” well you can figure it out!