Volusia eases punishment on Marijuana Possession

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 05, 2016.

Volusia County of the U.S. state of Florida on Thursday eases the amount of punishment on possession of small amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The County Council brought a new ordinance with a unanimous 7-0 vote that empowers the law officers the discretion to issue county code violations citations to persons possessing 20 grams of the drug or less. Instead of being arrested and put behind the bars, the violators would face a county court fine of $100.

The new law on marijuana will effect from April 1. The ordinance would apply only to possession of marijuana, while it still will be illegal to drive a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

However, the new law will be exercised only to people caught with marijuana on the beach and in unincorporated county areas. Cities will be allowed to adopt the same law.

County Council member Josh Wagner, 38, first raised the issue to decriminalize marijuana, rather than legalizing it. He said, “The only thing we learned from the war on drugs is that it didn't work. All it did was filling the jails."

Wagner, the former Volusia prosecutor, also said, “Volusia law officers still would have the right to arrest people or give them a notice to appear in court if they become belligerent or otherwise difficult. But if they cooperate, a $100 civil citation is really the punishment that fits the crime. It's enough to get people not to be stupid and totally disregard the law."

Volusia County Chair Jason Davis said he has seen a case where a "lad much younger than I" had two joints in his pocket, was followed by police, who then proceeded to ransack his house and charge him with a felony. "His life was ruined over something the size of a cigarette," Davis added.

The new ordinance is certainly expected to save Volusia County money and help young people to have a decent life, even if they make a mistake.

Others states decriminalized marijuana include the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Miami-Dade and Palm Beach are among the Florida counties to decriminalize marijuana.

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