Ricardo Mangual

Orlando, Florida Decriminalizes Personal Amounts of Cannabis

City Council members have voted 4-3 to make Orlando the next Florida municipality to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis, according to a WESH 2 report.

The decriminalization measure passed in a 4-3 vote on Monday afternoon. The change means that individuals who are caught with up to 20 grams of marijuana will no longer face automatic criminal charges. Instead, law enforcement officers will have the option of issuing fines: $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense — subsequent offenses would require a court appearance and warrant fines of up to $500.

People who can’t afford the fines will have the option of doing volunteer services for the city or attending drug education courses.

City commissioners first approved the legislation last month, but the bill has since undergone several changes that tightened restrictions and raised the fee amounts.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer approved of the changes. “What we’re saying is to someone who has made a youthful mistake for the first time and they have no other background of any sort and are not associated with any crimes, we’re probably going to be able to give them a second chance,” Dyer said.

The measure was opposed by two former police officers who serve on the City Council, Commissioners Tony Ortiz and Samuel Ings, and Commissioner Jim Gray.

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