Sarasota to eye decriminalizing marijuana

Editor & Publisher

Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody is urging his fellow commissioners to decriminalize cannabis and associated paraphernalia.

His proposal will be discussed at the City Commission’s March 18 regular meeting and if adopted, the City would join numerous other Florida jurisdictions, including Tampa, that have adopted the measure.

Brody argues that the City wastes resources in arresting users for small amounts of the drug. His suggestion is to allow the police the option of writing non-criminal civil citations rather than making an arrest for possession.

In a recent memo, Brody wrote that the Sarasota Police Department had charged 789 individuals for possession of cannabis since 2016. He cited the cost to taxpayers for this exercise, especially in instances that ended up in county jail. Brody also says that he wants law enforcement to spend its time on more serious and violent crimes.

The measure by Brody, if adopted, would leave it at the discretion of police officers on whether to issue a citation or make an arrest. It could create due process issues in that the law has to be applied evenly.

Brody’s plan is to work with police officers in creating criteria for when a citation should be issued.

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