Bills have been filed in both houses of Florida’s legislature that would decriminalize up to 1 ounce of cannabis and possession of paraphernalia, according to a News 13 report. Individuals convicted of low-level possession would be subject to a $100 fine – or 15 hours of community service if the individual is unable to pay. Individuals under 18 would be subject to 15 hours of community service, a drug awareness education program, or both.
Under current law, low-level cannabis convictions in Florida can result in up to one year in jail or $1,000 in fines. The new proposals (HB.1403, SB.1662) would consider cannabis convictions non-criminal violations, meaning the charges would not be recorded as criminal offenses. The measures also prohibit municipalities from criminalizing such violations and bars denial of financial aid, public housing, or public assistance for those convicted of low-level cannabis possession.
According to the report, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, and Port Richey are considering their own decriminalization measures; as are Volusia, Osceola, and Flagler counties.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 39,706 people were arrested for low-level cannabis possession last year in the state.
The House version of the legislation is in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, while the Senate Version has been referred to the Criminal Justice, Judiciary, and Rules committees.