Orlando has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The ordinance will allow police officers to issue citations rather than make arrests.
The measure was approved by the Orlando City Council on a 4-3 vote and will take effect October 1, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando is following the lead of many Florida cities and counties that have been decriminalizing marijuana possession.
Commissioners Patty Sheehan supported the new measure. Sheehan said this is “the right thing to do, because it helps people get their lives back together. Drug charges stay with people forever.”
The new law calls for a $100 fine for first-time offenders and a $200 fine for a second offense. Subsequent offenses require a court appearance and a possible fine, up to $500.
Orlando also plans to create a diversion program which would allow those ticketed to opt for eight hours of community service or substance abuse education instead of a fine.
“By freeing up the criminal justice system, we are able to address our real public safety challenges in Orlando … and reinvest into public health programs,” said Korey Wheeler, a supporter of the new ordinance.