Miami Beach commissioners on July 8 unanimously passed a law that allows police to issue a $100 ticket to people found with small amounts of marijuana. This de facto decriminalization is smoke and mirrors, pun intended.
However, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates has said that he will instruct his officers to still make arrests under specific circumstances: if a person is smoking in public, if it is found in a car, in connection with another crime or packaged in a way that indicates it is going to be sold. Or in other words, under practically every circumstance where police encounter marijuana.
It appears the only circumstance where a fine could be issued is when a person is smoking in a private residence, but police would need a warrant to enter the premises. So is this law really going to change anything on the ground or is this simply political theater?
As limited as this ordinance may be, it’s still a step in the right direction, and Miami Beach commissioners should be commended for taking the lead in sensible drug policy in Florida.
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Adam Ganuza, Miami Beach