Miami Beach Likely to Vote on Marijuana Decrim

Voters in Miami Beach could make it the first city in Florida to decriminalize marijuana possession after campaigners announced Tuesday they had turned in more than double the number of voter signatures needed for their initiative to make the ballot. They needed 4,300 signatures and turned in more than 9,000.

Miami Beach -- sun, sand... and sinsemilla? (image via wikimedia.org)
The initiative is sponsored by the Campaign for Sensible Marijuana Policies in Florida. Under the initiative, people caught in possession of up to 20 grams of pot would face no more than a $100 fine. Under Florida state law, possession of up to 20 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

The group turned in the signatures at Miami Beach City Hall Wednesday at 4:20pm. Then they had a rally.

"It's a great day for the the marijuana legalization movement in Florida," the group's chairman, Ford Banister, said. "For the first time, Florida voters will soon decide a marijuana related question."

"Our staff and volunteer canvassers have worked hard to gather the petitions over the last thirteen months.  We have been involved in the community and gotten to know it very well.  Based on the overwhelmingly positive response of Miami Beach residents to the petition drive, we are confident that the voters will approve the charter amendment by a large margin," said Eric Stevens, CSMP Miami Beach Campaign Director who managed the canvassing effort.

The group will ask the Miami City Council to vote for a resolution supporting the initiative, which would amend the city's charter.

"It is now well established that decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people. Moreover, marijuana is, without question, much safer than alcohol. Why are we driving people to drink by forcing them to choose a much more harmful intoxicant?" asked Banister.

It looks like Miami Beach voters will have the chance to vote for decriminalization, but those voter signatures need to be verified. Still, with more than double the number needed to qualify, the odds are good this will make the ballot.

Miami Beach, FL
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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it's about damn time florida

it's about damn time florida got some form of marijuana legislation put up for vote. If this passes, this will make it easier to pass more legislation.

Police State

In Florida possession of more than 20 grams is a felony. We are a law enforcement & prison for profit state. Truly evil!

Is this something that can be done in any city in Florida

with enough signatures?

I live in Miami Beach

I was just arrested for .5 grams of marijuana, I live in Miami Beach.

I wasn't taken to jail i was just charged and sent home... they didn't even read my rights. 

If you come to Miami Beach, you will smell blunts EVERYWHERE, that's why they don't take

ppl to jail here for pot - I don't even think they could afford to. Im thinking of not even doing the

pre-trial diversion because a friend of mine was just arrested for pot with no priors and the judge

just let him go with no probation, no fine... they should definitely decriminalize it here. 

After living in Miami Beach

I would like to take back my comment and mention Miami Beach is a police state, and has become increasingly worse this year. Miami Beach police have been cracking down on pot smokers and making hundreds of arrests in the last year. Not only that but they have no respect for citizens rights as they have illegally searched many ppl I know, both in their home and on the street. They now chase the scent of marijuana like dogs in heat looking for a bitch. It's also worth mentioning that a petitioner for this campaign was arrested wrongfully collecting signatures for this initiative, and he sued the city and won a settlement. Further, Miami Beach commission struck down this initiative and did not let it go on the ballot. This whole city is full of corrupt cops who profit from marijuanas illegality and would fight to the teeth to kept it that way. Gladly Colorado and Washington have now fully legalized cannabis. This shifts the paradigm greatly and hopefully Miami Beach can b the first city in Florida that frees our state from the grips of the prison system.

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