On March 8, 2017, Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and state Sen. Jeff Clemens introduced companion bills that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Under the bills, HB 1403 and SB 1662, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, as well as marijuana paraphernalia, would be reclassified as a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 or 15 hours of community service.
Current law classifies marijuana possession as a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 fine or a year in jail. Several cities in the state, such as Orlando, have decriminalized marijuana by giving law enforcement the option of issuing a ticket instead of making an arrest.
Citing that 39,706 Floridians were arrested in 2016 for simple possession, Smith said in a statement that Florida’s marijuana laws were “draconian” and a waste of taxpayer dollars, according to WFLA.
“We should be creating opportunities for people to succeed– not creating obstacles and ruining lives over minor infractions or youthful indiscretions,” Smith said. “It is past time for the legislature to end the unjust incarceration of Floridians for non-violent drug offenses.”