After voting on Tuesday the commissioners of Miami-Dade passed legislation for a new fine to be placed for marijuana possession. This new code ordinance states that the police have the option to charge those possessing pot just as those charged with littering or loitering. The new citation amount has been set to a $100 fine.
The code passed after a vote of 10-3 allowing police officers the option to choose between charging those caught with marijuana possession a civil citation or a criminal misdemeanor. This new citation brings only a fine, community service and it will not to be added to any criminal record for possessions of 20 grams or less, which equates to approximately three dozen joints.
“We have better things to do with our police resources,” said Commissioner Sally Heyman, sponsor of the ordinance. “For goodness’ sakes, we don’t have to destroy the lives of so many.”
Those in favor of this new code stated the previous code jeopardized eligibility for certain jobs, military service, and even affordable housing programs. They also were advocating that marijuana possession cases have been tying up the courts and keeping the police officers too busy.
Those against this new code are commissioners Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto. They believe this code variance will make the lives of parents harder.
“All we’re doing here is making parents’ lives harder,” Bovo said. “I could see a teenager telling a parent: ‘It’s just a fine, it’s not a big deal.”
Here Inspirations for Youth and Families teen rehab owner Karen Corcoran-Walsh spoke about how this change will affect the youth of the Miami Dade area.
“I think it’s important that the media starts talking about the legal age of marijuana use if society is going to legalize it. I mean really! Kids are thinking they can get caught with less than 20 grams and it’s no big deal here in Florida – a $100 fine?” said Karen Corcoran-Walsh, founder of Inspirations teen rehab in South Florida.”No one is talking about the neurological effects on the adolescent brain or addiction.
“We are seeing more & more teens with psychosis so bad that they can’t function at our teen rehab.”
– Karen Corcoran-Walsh
The new ordinance will be invoked within the next ten days and its backers say this will not decriminalize marijuana possession. The director of police J.D. Patterson says smoking pot in public is still a crime and this ordinance only applies specifically to marijuana possession.