This week there was a very significant victory for marijuana reform in Florida. The Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted to decriminalize the personal possession of marijuana up to 20 grams. Right now in Miami-Dade County, and throughout Florida, personal possession of up to 20 grams is a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Such a charge also comes with the ‘marijuana scarlet letter’ and labels anyone convicted as a criminal. Under Miami-Dade County’s new law, possession of up to 20 grams would be punishable by a $100 ticket, or two days of community service.
This is big news for those living in Miami-Dade County. No one should ever serve even one minute in a jail cell for marijuana, and law enforcement should be allowed to focus on fighting real crime, instead of spending countless hours investigating and processing a marijuana arrest. The new law goes into effect on July 10. NORML had the following to say in their article on the topic:
According to a countywide analysis by CBS, misdemeanor marijuana arrests accounted for 10 percent of all cases filed in the Miami-Dade criminal court system between the years 2010 and 2014. While African Americans comprise just 20 percent of the county’s population, they comprised over half of all of those arrested for marijuana possession offenses.
Senior county officials have not yet provided details in regard to how police will implement the new law or what criteria they will use to determine whether to issue a citation or make an arrest.
I hope that the implementation of this new law goes smooth, and that other parts of Florida follow suit. Marijuana decriminalization is not as good as full legalization, but it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. Marijuana decriminalization saves money, frees up law enforcement, and allows people to move on with their lives instead of having their lives ruined by becoming a criminal. I tip my hat to the Miami-Dade County Commissioners, good job!