Marijuana decriminalization has made its way to Tampa, Florida. In March 2016, lawmakers in the city of Tampa approved a new procedure for handling small marijuana possession charges.
So, what happens after you get a marijuana citation in Tampa?
Marijuana Citations in Tampa
Tampa decriminalized marijuana possession if the amount is under 20 grams. For the most part, the new Tampa rules mean that anyone found in possession of a small amount of marijuana will be issued a citation or just a ticket. But this isn’t actually the full story.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department has already expressed opposition to the new way of doing things.
When you get a marijuana citation in Tampa, this means if it’s your first offense, you will be made to pay a fine of $75 for possessing up to 20 grams of cannabis (marijuana).
A small marijuana possession ticket in Tampa for your second offense will cost you $150, the third offense $300, and $450 for the fourth offense.
The purpose of decriminalization in Tampa is to stop creating criminals out of small time offenders and weighing down the city with an excess of young people incarcerated and left with a criminal record.
In this year alone, the police of Tampa have made 1,882 arrests for small marijuana possession charges of less than 20 grams.
Marijuana Decriminalization in Tampa
Tampa Bay Times’ Richard Danielson reported in an article Could pot be ‘fine’ in Tampa?, “We have incarcerated a significant portion of a generation, particularly of young black men, over low-level drug offenses.” Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa said, “It really isn’t working. … If we can divert people as opposed to incarcerate them for minor offenses like smoking weed, I think we would be better served.”
Speaking to advocate decriminalization, five people reported having loved ones who needed cannabis to relieve medical ailments naturally. “I take medication, but I also use cannabis,” said a 3.9 grade point average student at USF who suffers from bipolar and panic disorder.
Despite the “ok” to go ahead with decriminalization from the Tampa city council, and the Tampa Police Department being on board with issuing tickets, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department (with jurisdiction over Tampa and surrounding cities) plans to disregard the new rules.
In response to decriminalization, Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE) called a meeting to discuss if juveniles could be given the same citation in conjunction with a mandatory drug treatment program.
“Today I continue to firmly believe states that decriminalize marijuana do not improve the wellbeing of their youth,” Sheriff Gee wrote in the letter (in response to expanding the civil citations). “I believe they jeopardize, increasingly, a large group of youth in ways that can’t be fully understood today.”
Despite the push toward decriminalization, the Hillsborough state prosecutor still plans to pursue small marijuana citations as criminal charges.
“If the Sheriff’s Office or the Highway Patrol or whatever agency, does issue a criminal charge on a marijuana possession within the city limits of Tampa and they refer it to us, we will treat it as a criminal charge just like we always have,” stated Hillsborough State Attorney spokesman Mark Cox.
What happens when you get a marijuana citation in Tampa?
To avoid penalties when getting a marijuana citation ticket in Tampa, find a criminal defense attorney who can handle small marijuana possession charges. Dean Tsourakis is an experienced criminal defense lawyer serving the city of Tampa.
Danielson, Richard. Could pot be ‘fine’ in Tampa?. Tampa Bay Tribune (TBT*). Friday February 19, 2016 Issue.on May 19, 2016