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Marijuana: Miami Beach Decriminalization Initiative Campaign Gets Underway

A group that wants to decriminalize marijuana possession in Miami Beach kicked off its campaign with a Wednesday night press conference. The next day, workers were hitting the Art Deco streets of the famed resort town to begin gathering signatures. They are aiming at putting the measure, which would amend the city charter, on the November ballot.

Organized by the Florida Campaign for Sensible Marijuana Policies, which is also organizing local decrim initiatives in Tallahassee, Orlando, Jacksonville Beach, and Atlantic Beach, the measure would allow Miami Beach police to issue a citation for a civil infraction instead of processing a misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest for small amounts of pot. The amendment would also increase the discretion of the state attorney to permit a plea to a civil infraction where appropriate.

Marijuana possession up to 20 grams would still be a misdemeanor under state law, and as they have done elsewhere, local police could ignore the will of the voters and continue to charge people under state law if the initiative passes.

The amendment needs some 4,400 valid signatures to make the November ballot. Thanks to a donation from a local film production company, it has the money to pay signature-gatherers, and organizers said they plan to far exceed the required number.

"The sum total effect of 72 years of marijuana prohibition and more than twenty million arrests since 1965 is that marijuana is now the largest cash crop in the United States and probably the most economically valuable agricultural commodity produced in the State of Florida. According to a recent report by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, Florida spends $573,366,000 annually on wholly ineffectual efforts to eradicate marijuana, a substance that every objective study has determined to be far less harmful than alcohol," said Ford Banister, chairman of the committee.

Banister said he is convinced Miami Beach is progressive enough to pass such a measure. "We are confident that the progressive and enlightened citizens of Miami Beach will agree that it's time we stop driving people to drink with excessive penalties for the use of a far safer substance," he said. "And if they do not yet know how much safer marijuana is than alcohol and the savings garnered by ending a failed policy, we will be working hard to educate them over the course of this campaign."

Florida is one of the bastions of Reefer Madness. It's high time somebody started pushing in the opposite direction in the Sunshine State.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Where is the research on projected numbers for State profit? We need to make dollar amounts for taxing. I think the key to make marijuana legal is how much money is to be made, The second thing is is to push marijuana versus alcohol. The answer to the lung issue is edible marijuana. No public consumption problems, but vaporization is the another answer.

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