Steps have been taken in Tampa to reduce penalties for small marijuana possession charges.
So what does local decriminalization in Tampa mean for the future of Florida Marijuana Laws?
Despite the fact that small marijuana possession charges under 20 grams were decriminalized in the city of Tampa for offenders with a limited or absent criminal record, these protections may not be honored by the local Sheriff’s office or state authorities in Hillsborough County.
Tampa Decriminalization as a Local Phenomenon
Decriminalization is a local phenomenon that extends to the authorities and police with direct jurisdiction over the City of Tampa. As of April 1, 2016 decriminalization in Tampa has led to the issuing of dozens of marijuana citations throughout the city.
You can still be arrested by deputies and state troopers in Tampa for small marijuana possession, even if you are within city limits! Although there is an ordinance that says officers can issue you a ticket for marijuana possession, this does not give the “green light” to anyone who wishes to possess small amounts of pot (marijuana/cannabis/weed).
In fact, if you are found in possession of marijuana in the City of Tampa by anyone besides the local police, you may still be arrested and face jail time. Florida itself still sees small marijuana possession as a serious crime, therefore decriminalization is more a local phenomenon (for the local city police force) than an effort to decriminalize statewide.
Florida Cities with Marijuana Citation Tickets
So far many counties and cities in Florida have moved toward marijuana decriminalization, such as: Broward, Palm Beach, and Volusia Counties as well as Miami-Dade, Miami Beach, Key West, the City of Tampa, and the latest, Orlando have passed ordinances for marijuana decriminalization.
The local phenomenon of issuing marijuana citations in place of misdemeanor possession charges has caught the attention of Florida cities that hope to focus time and money on solving bigger crimes. After April’s marijuana decriminalization in Tampa, the city of Orlando followed suit by passing a similar ordinance on May 9, 2016 for decriminalization in Orlando.
Now the authorities in Orlando will be permitted to issue marijuana citations in place of jail time for a drug possession misdemeanor. This ordinance is set to take effect for the City of Orlando in October 2016.
In addition, the City of St. Petersburg recently voted (May 5, 2016) to delay a vote on marijuana possession laws. The St. Petersburg police urged the city council to halt the vote until the Sheriff of Pinellas County Bob Gualtieri’s proposal is finished (expected in 3 months) in order to outline a countywide diversion program for small marijuana possession and other small crimes like trespassing and petit theft.
The program in St. Petersburg will be set to aim at reducing the first three marijuana possession offenses to citations. If you have been arrested or issued a marijuana citation for the City of Tampa or Hillsborough County, then it is in your best interests to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can represent your case.
You need a criminal defense attorney to help reduce penalties if you’re arrested for marijuana possession. Dean Tsourakis is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you put your life back together following a marijuana citation or arrest.
Call today for a free initial consultation.
SOURCES:on May 27, 2016