As reported in the local Media including Bay News 9, and the Tampa Bay Times, the St. Petersburg City Council discussed this week the possibility of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. City Council Members talked about modeling the ordinance after similar ones in Leon and Miami-Dade counties, which would allow those who are cited to be fined $150 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense as instead of being arrested and charged with a criminal offense.
Currently in Pinellas County, as in the rest of the State of Florida except those areas that have decriminalized it, POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA, in an amount under 20 Grams, is called a 1st degree Misdemeanor, punishable under Florida Statute 893.13(6)(B) by up to a year in jail and or a 1000 fine with optional conditions of probation, drug counseling, and a mandatory driver’s license revocation upon conviction. This trend of making it “just a ticket” is an interesting trend and seems to be forging ahead on a local government level in an area that the Florida Legislature will not go even though is seems to be what many of the voters want.
This proposal probably would not affect any currently pending criminal possession charges, and of course may never actually become a local ordinance. The County Council is attempting to contact the Pinellas County Commission to see if they will enact a County wide Municipal Ordinance that would work in all cities and the County areas as well.