Pot possession akin to speeding under Broward pot-ticket proposal

Pot possessors will be treated more like drivers caught speeding and less like drug criminals, under a proposal pushed forward by Broward County commissioners Tuesday.

Commissioners voted unanimously to set a Nov. 10 final hearing to allow law enforcement officers to issue civil fines to people caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana. Officers would have discretion, though, to continue treating it as a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by up to a year in jail.

The civil citation option is growing in popularity, as public opinion about marijuana in America mellows. Marijuana is still an illegal drug in Florida. But Broward commissioners, like their counterparts in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, said the punishment exceeds the crime and can leave a ruinous mark on a person’s record.

“We’re not condoning the use of marijuana,” said Commissioner Marty Kiar, who sponsored the proposal but said he’s never taken a bong hit or toke on a joint. “We’re not saying it’s a good thing. We’re not saying it’s the right thing. But … an arrest can ruin people’s lives.”

Kiar said the proposal would benefit the county financially, as well, cutting jail costs. In the last four years, 3,532 people were booked in the jail solely for misdemeanor drug possession, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Got pot in Hallandale Beach? You may get fine instead of jail

Got pot in Hallandale Beach? You may get fine instead of jail

Starting Sept. 19, people caught in Hallandale Beach with small amounts of pot can be fined $100.

That means no arrest and no jail time.

Hallandale Beach commissioners unanimously approved the new law late Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County.

The law will…

Starting Sept. 19, people caught in Hallandale Beach with small amounts of pot can be fined $100.

That means no arrest and no jail time.

Hallandale Beach commissioners unanimously approved the new law late Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County.

The law will…

(Susannah Bryan)

Kiar cited a report that aired Monday evening on WFOR-Ch. 4 showing that the vast majority of those cited for minor possession of pot in Broward were black. The disparity was particularly prominent in the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Under what’s proposed in Broward, the civil citation option would apply countywide. A city that opposes civil citations could pass an ordinance opting out.

The county casually sought input from the 31 cities, and only Hillsboro Beach said it was not interested in participating.

The proposal survived intact Tuesday despite serious concerns that 20 grams is too much pot to treat lightly.

County supports creating marijuana arrest alternative

County supports creating marijuana arrest alternative

People caught with a little marijuana in Palm Beach County could get a $100 ticket instead of a trip to jail, under a new law initially approved Tuesday.

The proposal would allow law enforcement officers to issue civil citations — similar to traffic tickets — instead of arresting adults found with…

People caught with a little marijuana in Palm Beach County could get a $100 ticket instead of a trip to jail, under a new law initially approved Tuesday.

The proposal would allow law enforcement officers to issue civil citations — similar to traffic tickets — instead of arresting adults found with…

(Andy Reid)

Pulling a spice jar out, Commissioner Lois Wexler said she thought 20 grams is too much and asked commissioners to reduce the threshold. Though she said her jar was full of basil, Wexler said “you can make a whole lot of joints with this sucker.”

She also worried the casual treatment of people carrying illegal drugs would allow people with drug problems to go untreated.

Paul Falk, director of the Broward Addiction Recovery Center, agreed, saying offenders should be assessed for drug problems and given a regimen of drug education. He said intervention should be mandatory, not an option, as proposed by Commissioner Dale Holness.

“A lot of people today do not know they have a substance-abuse problem triggered by things buried within them,” Falk said, calling marijuana a drug that’s a “gateway” to more serious substance abuse.

Commissioners will debate Nov. 10 whether to require drug treatment and education on a first, second or third offense.

Under what’s proposed, the civil citation option would not be possible in the presence of any felony charges, driving under the influence, or a violent crime, including domestic violence.

A first-time offense would earn a $100 fine, second and later offenses would be $250. Community service would be an option to avoid a fine.

Miami-Dade commissioners approved a similar ordinance recently, and Palm Beach County commissioners voted Tuesday to set an Oct. 20 final vote on a civil citation option.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-broward-pot-citations-20151006-story.html

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