Hillsborough County commissioners vote to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

Hillsborough County

(AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

HILLSBOROUGH, CO., Fla. (WFLA) – On Wednesday Hillsborough County Commissioners voted unanimously to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The move is supported by Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office is in full support and will enforce the ordinance which will make small amounts of marijuana possession a civil infraction,” said Chronister as he addressed commissioners Wednesday morning.

There was little opposition to the plan. Long time anti-drug advocate Teresa Miller spoke to warn commissioners about the message this will send to teens.

“They’re hearing that it’s safe, that it’s harmless and it’s beneficial and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Miller.

Commissioners voted 7 to 0 in favor of the ordinance that will make it a civil infraction for anyone found with less than 20 ounces of marijuana in their possession.

Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren says it will allow his office to focus on more serious crimes.

“It’s really saving taxpayer resources. I get asked all of the time, as a prosecutor, as a dad I’m far more focused on someone with an illegal gun in their pocket than illegal drugs in their pocket,” said Warren.

According to the sheriff’s office, an individual can receive up to four civil citations before facing a criminal charge for marijuana possession. After a third citation, violators are required to attend drug screening, an education or treatment program.

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