Florida Cities Moving Full Speed Ahead With Marijuana Decriminalization

thumbs_upLocal governments in Florida are taking marijuana law reform into their own hands by adopting marijuana decriminalization ordinances as an alternative to more severe state sanctions.

We first wrote about this trend in July when Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, passed an ordinance allowing local law enforcement to treat marijuana possession offenses involving 20 grams or less as a civil infraction, punishable by a $100 fine.

Many other communities have followed suit. City commissioners in Miami Beach imposed a similar policy in July; authorities in Hallandale Beach acted likewise last week. 

Key West City City officials are poised to finalize a similar measure in September while lawmakers in Palm Beach County are considering taking similar action. Decriminalization is also gaining momentum among lawmakers in the city of St. Petersburg.

These changes to local laws are especially significant in Florida, where state lawmakers have failed to even consider amending its archaic and overly punitive marijuana policies. Consequently, Florida possesses the third highest annual marijuana possession arrest total (roughly 60,000 arrests per year) in the nation.

But that may soon change. Advocates, including Florida NORML, are pushing  a 2016, ballot initiative aimed at legalizing the adult use of marijuana, while a separate measure to amend the state’s medical marijuana laws is also expected to be decided by voters (in 2014 the measure narrowly failed to meet the state’s 60% vote requirement). According to a Quinnipiac poll conducted last year, 88% of Florida residents support legalizing marijuana for medical use and 55% of residents support legalizing the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana.

It’s clear that Florida residents are fed up with policies that treat those who possess marijuana as criminals and are looking to their local governments to lead the way in reforming these policies. NORML encourages you to contact your local city commissioners and urge them to consider adopting decriminalization policies in your communities.

25 thoughts

  1. None of this progress can be even remotely tied to Mr. Jeb Bush. Keep that in mind when VOTING this next go around.

  2. As of 8/24/2015.

    Stock market took a huge dump today, very simular to the 2008 fiasco.

    Dead lines are looming for many tax breaks for the American public. (Our do nothing congress will let these tax breaks expire…and blame Obama)

    Planned parenthood has a real possibility of be de funded because we’ll honestly our government is broke.

    Advancement of infrastructure projects have begun to dial back by 30%.

    Seems like a awfully good time to repeal schedule 1 status of marijuana, medicalize & legalize in all states. Create a legal market place, moderately tax, and reap the benefits. And I don’t know BALANCE our budget….. and maybe just maybe start paying off our 18.7 fucking trillion dollars deficit. That looks like this for USA’s bank account. -$18,700,000,000,000,000.00 Holly shit that’s alot of zeros!!!

    Food for thought for all presidential candidates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. This is great news. However, don’t expect it in the majority of Florida counties and municipalities. The areas you mention are historically Blue and vote solidly Democrat.

    The Panhandle – with the exception of Tallahassee – is staunchly conservative & Republican and proudly considers itself part of the “Deep South” with all its conservative trappings.

    I’ve lived in Hawaii, Chicago, northern California, and then returned to my home state of Florida (I don’t know why in retrospect).
    My current home is Jacksonville but I’ve conducted field work (I’m a botanist) in every county in the state over 16 years.

    Even in Jax, a city of 800,000, you can forget about decriminalization. Tallahassee, like Gainesville, routinely votes well over 80% Democrat; Tallahassee, the capitol, has policies driven by legislatures from all over the state and that moron governor, Rick Scott.

    What I’m saying is that 58 of the state’s 67 counties balk at such progressive measures. It’s sad, but a reality.

  4. I’m glad to see this kind of thing happening anywhere in America! Floridians sure couldn’t count on Jeb Bush to do anything remotely positive regarding marijuana; even though him and his family have used illegal drugs in their past… Friggin’ Hypocrites!

  5. I think I understand what is happening here. For example, my friend Mike whom I’ve known since fifth grade is now the mayor of our town. His campaign has featured Police checkpoints which I think are unreasonable searches and seizures, (that) shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause (are all drivers at night probably criminals?), supported by Oath or affirmation (in front of a real judge), and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons (in other words the law must proceed case by case) or things to be seized. Family values are trumping the first, fourth, and ninth Amendments and very blatantly.

  6. @ Apparent outsider,

    It’s funny, our country is too broke to fund Planned Parenthood or the infrastructure, but we always seem to find a way to fund our overbloated military. We have a military budget that equals what, the next 10 countries, 12 countries, whatever, put together. Curious for a country that is protected on its flanks by the world’s two largest oceans, and has the terrifying armies of Canada and Mexico poised on its northern and southern flanks, ready for immediate invasion.

    The corporate boys decide how the money is spent; if they need a war to trigger more cash flow, a new “dire international threat” is quickly wheeled out and promoted by our “free” press.

    Keep the sheep frightened is the order of the day. Roads going to hell? Bridges in danger of collapse? Well, haven’t you heard? Country X,Y or Z is threatening our security! Oh god the humanity!!

    Apparently, they feel less threatened by MJ tokers at the current time, or else they see the writing on the wall, or we’d see a full-blown propaganda attack on MJ legalization (not that they haven’t tried).

  7. I’ve never followed anything political in as much detail as marijuana law reform. I see change is coming from the bottom and rising to the top.

    Man, these Founding Father guys were pretty smart in the way they set things up.

  8. I really hope Florida does it. If my cancer doesn’t kill me first, I’m planning on spending my end time there. Legal or not, I will have my medicine–wherever.

  9. Jeb Bush is a Dunce. “I’m thinking about forming a pre-election out come committee. So I can figure out if I can be President.” You’re a fucking idiot JEB! You can be President, you’re idiot brother already proved it so, so your stupidity isn’t going to stop you, but Americans will.

  10. Unfortunately, most workers who have drug free workplaces cannot use marijuana even where it’s legal. The scheduling of marijuana needs to be addressed.

  11. The aparent outsider is right repeal those archaic laws and get us out of debt before china lays claim to California and Oregon as payment for our debt.

  12. Aside from all of this crap. I wanna know which presditnal candidate is pro pot that’s who we gotta vote for

  13. Things are heating up! I’m from Ohio, and that stupid mascot RO came up with, wtf! Our Gov Kasich said he would get rid of the drugs if he gets in WH!. Like a few others,(Christie), and? Stupid shits, another Viet Nam, situation will be about the same! It’s gotten way outta hand.

  14. #@ Three Kings,

    Very informative rundown of the Florida political situation. From what you say, it seems that local legalization is the most realistic way to legalization in Fla anytime soon. I’m guessing there are a few other states in the country in similar political situations.

    In my own state of NM, the most liberal city, Santa Fe, decriminalized last year. The biggest city, Albuquerque, nearly succeeded too, but was thwarted by, you guessed it, Republicans.

    Supposedly there is going to be another attempt at decriminalization by Dem city councilors in the not too distant future. We’ll see.

  15. It seems the sticking point to my area the PALM BEACHES is how to not have the police profiling people for cash! The other cute thing they are trying to include is that the police can arrest you if they want. How do you know that this a good cop pulling your car over. I think it should be simple you do not arrest you ticket. But to leave it up to the cops to play god is like saying we can arrest you if we want. The south fights to be 20 years behind the rest of the country.

  16. We need updated govt system. LOOK at the constitution. this country made it null , the day they ignored Thomas Jefferson whom wanted to review the govt every 10 yr. The govt did not obey. the people who govern them. All the wayto the present. I highly doubt people GAve away their money to pay leg. perks. this gvt was to be run by 1 mn for 2.5 million people. We now total 3.5 billion people. too much for 1 person’

    As for marijuanna – it was legal for a short time last century for for medical use Actally . lo being a natural plant, it is free. but it’s time for this govt to BUTT ‘out .We are your employer by the original documents. OBEY. or BE TREATED as crooks are really treated, pls people – take out the the law trash. together we can create a better life – funded by cutting all perks ASAP now. It is the money for a free health system and will boost ss. pls share.

  17. To whom it may concern, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd is a liar and a snake. In his debate with that dumbass lawyer John Morgan, Judd claims , ” there is absolutely no medicinal value in smoking marijauna ” . How could sheriff Judd know that since all research by the asthma and allergy foundation have been barred by the state and law enforcement. I can tell everyone from my own experience that smoking pot CURED my asthma in less than three months. I am living proof that Sheriff Judd is lying about Cannabis . My aunt died from using a bronchometer to relieve her asthma , the same med I was prescribed that had me in and out of hospital monthly. After three months of toking Columbuan Gold 1977 I was cured for life. Never been back to a doctor for asthma since . Send your letters to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd and tell him to die and go to Hell !! God won’t put us and him in Heaven together . I know , I asked God ! Sincerely, Richard J. Wilkes Sr.

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