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.
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.