The daily news sources have told you already but in case you haven’t heard: late last month Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 10-3 to allow possession of 20 grams or less of weed as a civil violation.
The change in the county code means law enforcement can choose to treat it no more seriously than jaywalking or littering, and it would cost you a $100 ticket… it still sucks but it won’t land you in the criminal system. Is pot legal? No. Is this whole thing ideal? Not really. But I’ll be damned if it’s not a great start!
The ordinance came into effect this past Friday: July 10.
Of course nothing is that simple or good here in a conservative state that has pissed all over recent efforts to legalize the herb. As stated before, police will have the choice to arrest someone for marijuana possession if they deem it necessary. If they do then the same penalties apply as before.
Also, it goes without saying you can’t spark up in public
Being called “good, common sense” by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, it saves tax payer dollars and valuable time for other law enforcement activities – like catching rapists and murderers. It also spares innocent stoners from getting a blight on their records which could kill opportunities to better themselves later in life. Almost half of all misdemeanor cannabis defendants ended up getting a “withhold of adjudication” which is a non-convicted admission of guilt that stays on their permanent record. This gets in the way of employment prospects, military service, etc.
A possible controversy arises from the part that makes it “optional” for cops to still arrest you. In a drug war marred with racial injustice and inequality, this option to arrest might not bode well for people of color who are disproportionately imprisoned for minor marijuana offenses. According to a report done by CBS Miami, in a county where less than 20% of the people are black, black defendants make up 55% of misdemeanor marijuana cases. The way these cases end up are also unfair for black defendants. Of people actually convicted, 74% are black. The same goes for the withhold of adjudication outcome with 65% of those people being black.
White people had their cases dismissed at a rate of 56% while black people had them dismissed at a rate of 44%.
An article in the Miami Herald suggested that with the new law, an arrest will only be more likely when someone is clearly selling weed, got into a car accident with weed, or is a repeat offender.
Miami Beach just passed a similar law to the rest of the county, but the dollars fined would go to the city instead.
This is huge for Florida since Miami-Dade is its most populated county. Anyone who’s driven out of Florida knows the rest of the state is not quite as progressive as it is here. The Jesus Christ billboards make sure of that.
This may be the only and last action we see taken on the matter until the 2016 elections when 2014’s failed United for Care initiative promises to reappear on the ballot. Either way, it’s an unlikely great victory for pot smokers here in Florida. I can remember just a few years ago when the national push towards legalization seemed like a pipe dream that would never come to fruition, but here it is. We’re doing what we can to continue the trend.
– Emma Jane