City Commission decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana
SARASOTA- Sarasota City Commission voted unanimously to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the city. Having less than 20 grams of marijuana is going from misdemeanor crime to a simple civil citation in the City of Sarasota.
“What a civil citation does,” Commissioner Brody said. “Is I believe it more appropriately deals with the issue without saddling somebody with a criminal record for something as far as the public policy goes is rapidly evolving.”
Starting December 3rd, getting caught with less than 20 grams will result in a $100 dollar fine or 10 hours of community service. Commissioner Hagen Brody says it will help to free up police resources.
“We want our law enforcement and criminal justice system really focusing on critical issues, violent crime” Brody said. “And with this particular issue we are responding to the quickly moving public sentiment regarding this policy issue.”
Sarasota Police says they are reviewing the ordinance and “Developing a plan for implementation, in collaboration with the City Attorney’s Office.”
Commissioner Brody says the measure would not have passed without the support of the Department and Chief DiPino.
“Without her support it’s really meaningless,” Brody said. “A lot of communities have instituted, intelligent, smart civil citation programs, but if you don’t have law enforcement on board then they’re not going to use it.”
Commissioner Brody says the new proposal will make sure that a small mistake doesn’t follow you the rest of your life.
“The important part is that you’re not saddles with a criminal record that can affect your employment, your housing, your education,” Brody said. “And it also frees up law enforcement to focus on more serious and critical issues.”
There is 90 days until the new measure goes into effect.