This week, California saw the recreational use of marijuana legalized. As more states and citizens become familiar with marijuana as a medicinal and recreational drug, initiatives of decriminalization for the possession of personal quantities of marijuana has become a debate in a number of states. Florida is one of the states that has talked about the decriminalization of marijuana for a while. However, after a failed attempt to pass bill last session, one of the state representative of Orlando has decided to refile that bill that would decriminalize personal marijuana quantities.
What Is House Bill 1203?
House Bill 1203 is a piece of Florida legislation that would reclassify misdemeanor criminal offenses for the possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis. The reclassification would result in the misdemeanor criminal offense of possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis to be turned into a simple noncriminal civil violation. This means possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis would no longer be considered a reason for arrest.
The noncriminal civil violations would result in fines of no more than $100 or up to 15 hours of community service for “violators.” If someone under the age of 18 were caught with less than 20 grams of cannabis, they would go through community service and/or complete an awareness program.
Personal use quantities of cannabis are amounts that do not exceed 20 grams, but they also cannot exceed 5 grams of cannabis resin. This is due to the fact that resin is much stronger than leafy marijuana. The bill does not have weight allowances for grown cannabis or other substances that may be used in the preparation of marijuana (pot brownies may be weighed by the whole baked good, not just the amount of cannabis in the brownie.)
Officials Feelings Toward the Criminalization of Cannabis
The state representative that has refiled the bill has gone on the record as saying that, “we need to quit throwing Floridians into jail for simple possession.” There is truth to the claim that Floridians are currently being jailed for misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement records reveal that 39,700 arrests were made in 2016 for possession of misdemeanor marijuana amounts. In reaction to this news, the Orlando police chief claims that, “We want to make safe and livable neighborhoods, and going out there and making a bunch of low-level misdemeanor drug arrests is really not going to accomplish that goal.”
Misdemeanor Marijuana Charges Are Still a Threat in Florida
While Florida legislators and police chiefs may feel that personal use amounts of cannabis should be decriminalized, the bill has yet to pass. In fact, even when this bill passes, it may be a couple of months until the bill takes legal effect. This means being caught with personal amounts of cannabis will still result in misdemeanor charges for some time.
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