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Prosecutors and law enforcement are on differing sides of a possible ordinance that would make minor possession of marijuana a civil offense, a move the Leon County Commission is being urged not to make.

Commissioners will consider whether to move ahead with an ordinance during a workshop Tuesday focused on alternatives to incarceration for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, less than 20 grams. 

Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. at the Leon County Courthouse. Leon County staff are recommending against the civil citation ordinance. 

The issue lies in the fact that marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level, despite it being approved for medical purposes and available recreationally in dozens of states.

At least 15 communities around Florida have adopted ordinances, none of which have been challenged legally, that allow law enforcement to issue civil citations that have been developed with the support of the local state attorney.

By the way:In narrow vote, county commissioners back drafting marijuana decriminalization ordinance

Related:Local leaders looking at pot decriminalization amid hemp debate and pause in prosecutions

More:Medical marijuana not just for subcultures as patients of all walks of life seek relief

But State Attorney Jack Campbell “maintains his opposition to any ordinance that attempts to decriminalize marijuana possession by characterizing the offense as a civil infraction and imposing a civil fine,” according to agenda materials.

Campbell, however, has worked through the years to bolster diversionary programs which have been in place for the last 20 years across the six-county 2nd Judicial Circuit. The program gives first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid jail time or other punishment given they complete the requirements.



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