Pubdate: Tue, 22 Oct 2019
Source: Miami New Times (FL)
Copyright: 2019 New Times, Inc.
Author: Jessica Lipscomb


For the past three and a half months, marijuana has essentially been
decriminalized in Miami. After Florida legalized hemp July 1, the
Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office announced it would no longer
prosecute most minor marijuana charges because the substance is
virtually indistinguishable from hemp.

Nevertheless, the City of Miami Beach has passed a municipal ordinance to 
discourage people from smoking weed in public. At a meeting last week, 
city commissioners unanimously voted to outlaw public smoking of marijuana 
and hemp.

"We are a very progressive community. Medical marijuana passed here
overwhelmingly," Mayor Dan Gelber said. "On the other hand, I know our 
residents expect a certain level of conduct."

Under the city's new law, anyone observed smoking cannabis, hemp, or
marijuana on a public right-of-way is subject to a fine of up to $500 and 
up to 60 days in county jail. Gelber told commissioners last week that 
police would treat marijuana consumption similarly to an open-container 
violation. Police Chief Rick Clements said Miami Beach officers "are very 
good, if you will, at using discretion."

"Really during the high-impact weekends - for example, during spring
break and during Memorial Day weekend - our officers are very good at 
actually being able to go to people and have them pour out the open 
container without there being any additional incidents," Clements said at 
the commission meeting. He then introduced Capt. Daniel Morgalo, who told 
commissioners public consumption of marijuana has been "extremely 
pervasive" in the entertainment district - and then related an odd 
anecdote to illustrate the need for the new law.

"During Columbus Day weekend, we had an individual that chose to stand on 
top of a police vehicle while openly consuming marijuana," Morgalo stated. 
"So had that individual not been doing that - had he not been standing on 
top of the police vehicle and breaking other laws - we would not have a 
mechanism in place at this point to deal with this specific type of behavior."

So there you have it: To prevent people from smoking weed while
perched atop cop cars - the latter being an activity that is and
pretty much always has been against the law - Miami Beach has now
criminalized any public cannabis smoking.
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