TAMPA, Fla., March 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The city of Tampa will hold a public hearing on March 3 for a proposed law that will cite and fine those in possession of small amounts of marijuana. If put into effect, the law will significantly reduce the consequences of possessing marijuana within city limits.
At a city council meeting held last week, all six council members in attendance voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana in Tampa. Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn also supports moving forward with enacting the new law.
Currently, possession of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison or probation and a $1,000 fine. Offenders can also lose their drivers licenses for up to two years. A reported 1,900 arrests made in the city last year involved possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The purpose of the new law is not to support marijuana use, but to eliminate the harsh consequences resulting from marijuana possession under the current law. Tampa's Police Chief, Eric Ward, said, "The ultimate goal to this whole civil process is to give people an opportunity not to get incarcerated. A one-time offender who made that mistake at a party or walking down the street, I don't think that should condemn you for the rest of your life."
The provisions for the new law would allow Tampa police to write a citation for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana. Offenders would also be fined $75 for their first offense, $150 for their second offense, $300 for their third offense, and $450 for their fourth. Possession of drug paraphernalia with small amounts of marijuana would fall under the same fine schedule.
Councilman Harry Cohen is in favor of the new law. Cohen said, "This is not legalization; it is a concession that what we are doing is too harsh and its consequences too severe and people's lives are being ruined in the present system." Like many of his fellow council members, Cohen recognizes the hardships that come with having drug possession on a permanent record. For instance, it can be extremely difficult to find and keep a job.
On the other side of the issue, some council members plan to vote against the new law's passing. Some feel that citizens should abide by state and federal laws, which the city's proposed ordinance would skate around if enacted. Others, are worried about how the law will affect Tampa's youth.
Teresa Miller, a member of the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance, has an issue with the amount of marijuana the law would allow people to possess at once. Miller thinks that anyone, especially students, who are caught with 20 grams of marijuana, should be required to seek drug counseling. "Our chief concern is children and young adults will get the wrong message," Miller said. "Many young adults think that marijuana is harmless. This is a myth; it's extremely harmful."
Tampa would not be the first city to enact a law of this nature. And, given that Floridians are expected to vote on legalization in 2016, the decriminalization of marijuana in big-name cities, like Tampa, Miami, and St. Petersburg, could speak to changing attitudes about cannabis throughout the state.
iBoss Advertising is on board with city's plan to move away from jail time and criminal records for marijuana possession. As the United States as a whole adopts a new attitude toward marijuana, enacting the proposed law will help keep Tampa relevant in America's "green rush."
Tampa's cannabis activists, among millions nationwide, took to City Hall, wearing stickers that read "Tickets not arrests." iBoss works with its clientele to connect activists, like those in the Tampa area, to emerging news and entertainment involving the legalization movement, and inform readers on the constantly changing platforms for medical and recreational marijuana. iBoss partners with like-minded companies to bridge the gap between government and activist action across the country and the Tampa area . For now, this very proposal is a promising step on the road to legalization that will likely further alter the attitude toward marijuana in Tampa and in Florida.
About iBoss Advertising
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