Sarasota joins other Florida cities in decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – On Tuesday, the Sarasota City Commission voted unanimously to approve a new Cannabis Civil Citation Ordinance.

The ordinance, introduced several months ago by Commissioner Hagen Brody decriminalizes possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, which will carry a $100 fine or the completion of 10 hours of community service, but the municipality isn’t the first in the state, or the Tampa Bay area to create such an ordinance.

Under the city’s current law, possession of 20 grams or less can carry a maximum of one year in jail and a one-year suspension of a driver’s license.

Starting Dec. 3, however, people caught with small amounts of marijuana within city limits will result in a civil citation.

In February of 2016, Tampa’s City Council voted to approve a similar resolution, where a person caught within city limits carrying less than 20 grams of cannabis would only be fined $75.

Around the state, more than a dozen communities— including Orlando and Key West— have passed similar decriminalization ordinances.

Untitled Document

Florida local marijuana decriminalization

“We worked hand in glove with our police department to craft a law that is better in-line with evolving public sentiment, responds to demands for smarter justice, and most importantly, frees up law enforcement resources to focus on more serious crime and pressing issues in our community,” Brody said.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll that showed that 65 percent of Floridians support legalized recreational cannabis. In June the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, was sure not to mince words when 8 On Your Side asked him about his thoughts on following 11 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing cannabis.

“Not while I’m Governor,” said DeSantis. “I mean look, when that is introduced with teenagers and young people I think it has a really detrimental effect to their wellbeing and their maturity.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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