I have always been a fan of local politics. That's not to say that I don't like national politics too, because I do. But there's something about local politics that excites me in particular. When it comes to marijuana politics, local politics are particularly important. As I always say, if you can't win at the state level, start out at the local level. After enough local victories the momentum will build towards an eventual statewide victory.
I'm happy to say that there have been several local marijuana reform victories recently. More and more municipalities are looking at decriminalizing personal marijuana possession in an attempt to save money and reduce the impact that a marijuana charge has on people's lives, especially among minorities. Tampa, Florida is the latest city to decriminalize marijuana possession. Per TampaBay.Com:
Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Monday signed the ordinance approved by the City Council last week on a 5 to 1 vote, said spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.
Tampa police officers now have the option of imposing a civil fine instead of arresting offenders caught with up to 20 grams --- or about ¾ of an ounce --- of marijuana. Offenders could get a citation with fines starting at $75, rising to $150 for a second offense, $300 for a third and $450 for any offense after that.
Buckhorn's approval isn't a surprise. He has previously voiced support for the measure that supporters say creates an alternative to burdening people, especially young black men, with criminal records that make it harder to find jobs or maintain a driver's license.
No one should be put in a jail cell for possessing a plant that has been proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol. In a perfect world people wouldn't get fined for possessing marijuana either, but decriminalizing personal amounts of marijuana in Tampa is a great step in the right direction. I'd imagine more and more cities in Florida will decriminalize, joining the growing number of other municipalities that have already done so. Good stuff.