Broward News

Broward County Looking Into Fining Marijuana Users Rather Than Arresting Them

Broward County is a step closer to having more lax penalties for anyone busted for minor pot possession. On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously voted to draw up an ordinance to lessen penalties for anyone caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana — though the exact amount will still need to be discussed more thoroughly. The proposed ordinance was put up by Commissioner Marty Kiar.

Specifically, the ordinance will give police the option of issuing a civil penalty instead of outright arresting someone they catch with weed. The idea behind the measure to not have people’s lives be affected by a small amount of weed, while keeping the jails from getting needlessly overcrowded. It would also ease the burden on taxpayers as a whole.

Commissioners have asked the county attorney to draft a proposed ordinance.

While the commission won’t meet again until August, Broward County could have a new law down by the fall.

Just last week, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London proposed a similar ordinance that would have law enforcement officers issue a civil infraction for anyone who would normally be arrested on a minor possession charge.

This after Miami-Dade and Miami Beach commissioners introduced the idea by hosting residents and public defenders to speak on the issue. And, like the Broward commissioners, the idea behind the new law would be to ease jail overcrowding and to not have people’s lives wrecked over a small amount of pot.

Miami-Dade and Miami Beach commissioners both passed an initial ordinance that would make a misdemeanor marijuana possession a civil offense, with a $100 fine.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County is also considering a lesser-charge-for-pot ordinance after commissioners agreed to look into possibly drafting up a measure. County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor is spearheading that exploration by echoing London and Kiar’s thoughts that arresting someone for minor pot possession could potentially ruin someone’s life and could lead to a burdened legal system.
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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph