Marijuana has become legal fully including recreational use in five states Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. In 23 other states marijuana has become legal in some from but the other states still consider its crime and will arrest individuals for possession.
Some cities are issuing a citation for possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less, and Volusia County is the first in Central Florida to allow officers an option to give a citation instead of arresting a citizen for a crime the judge usually gives a fine or community service. John Wagner says “He wants to get the bad guys and knows how cops, judges and prosecutors can make that happen. From his perspective, it’s not by spending time on penny-ante marijuana charges, which are often dismissed anyway or resolved with fines. That’s why Wagner a member of the Volusia County Council is pushing to give officers the option of replacing criminal charges with a civil citation and fine. <http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-marijuana-jail-volusia–scott-maxwell->.
Sheriff Ben Johnson of Volusia County agrees but has some reservation. He’s concern with the poor community need being able to afford $200 fine. There has always been an alternative to paying a penalty which is community service. The other concern is that the county is leaving it up the officer. The law should be clear cut either it is a crime or it’s not a crime. Throw one person in jail for something and not the other isn’t fair. The view on marijuana has changed tremendously and continuing to improve. Some look at Florida and is Cities as the heart of the Bible belt and would be the last state to allow medical and recreational marijuana use but we aren’t. If Volusia passes this, it should vow to review its impact in a year to see who got charged with a crime and who got a civil penalty. If there are patterns, be they ethnic or income-based, it should raise flags
But right now, localities are already dropping these cases. (Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton dropped whole slew of misdemeanor pot cases simply to clear a backlog when he took office.)
The consensus seems to be that many of these charges aren’t worth the time of cops, judges or prosecutors.