Marijuana in small amounts decriminalized in new Florida bill

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 5:56 PM EDT
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Two state lawmakers have filed bills to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana statewide.

  • Decriminalizes 1 ounce (roughly 28 grams) or less of marijuana
  • Penalties include $100, community service
  • Several cities, counties have decriminalized small amounts
  • CAPITOL CONNECTION: Latest News | Contact your Florida legislators

FL Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and FL Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, have filed HB 1403 and SB 1662. The two bills reduce penalties for small amounts of recreational cannabis to a civil violation. 

Under current state law, those convicted for posessing small amounts of marijuana face a year in jail or a fine of $1,000.

Under the new bill, the penalty for possession of 1 ounce (roughly 28 grams) or less of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia is a $100 fine. If you can't afford to pay it, you can instead do 15 hours of community service. 

Someone under 18 who is convicted faces up to 15 hours of community service, a drug awareness program or both. 

In addition, it would be considered a non-criminal violation, which means the person convicted would not be recorded in any database of criminal offenders. 

The goal is to reduce arrests and incarceration for marijuana use across the state.  Last year alone, 39,706 Floridians were arrested for low-level cannabis possession, according to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement.

Several cities and counties have already begun decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, including Orlando, Tampa, Daytona Beach, Port Richey and Volusia, Osceola and Flagler counties.