Legislation that would decriminalize marijuana possession has been filed in the Florida Legislature.
House Bill 1403 was filed by State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D), and the identical Senate Bill 1662 was filed by Senator Jeff Clemens (D). Under the proposed legislation, those caught possessing up to an ounce of cannabis will be charged with a maximum of an $100 fine, payable by 15 hours community service. There would be no arrest or criminal charge.
Under current law possessing even 0.1 of a gram is punishable by a misdemeanor and up to a year in jail.
“These draconian marijuana possession laws have wasted taxpayer dollars, unnecessarily filled up our state prison system, and distracted law enforcement from focusing on apprehending dangerous criminals,” Representative Smith said in a press release. “We should be creating opportunities for people to succeed – not creating obstacles and ruining lives over minor infractions or youthful indiscretions. It is past time for the legislature to end the unjust incarceration of Floridians for non-violent drug offenses.”
Smith notes that “If Amendment 2 was any indication, public opinion on marijuana has changed drastically over the years. Tallahassee politicians must catch up with where a majority of Floridians already are.”
Both measures must pass their respective chambers (or one measure can pass through both chambers) to be sent to Governor Rick Scott for consideration.