County Commissioner Sally Heyman is sponsoring the plan, part of a larger change to how the county classifies offenses that tend to ensnare low-income residents, like theft of shopping carts and loitering.
If adopted by the commission and not vetoed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, the new ordinance would let officers issue a civil citation to someone carrying less than 20 grams of marijuana, about two-thirds of an ounce. That’s about how much would fit in a sandwich bag — or enough to produce about three dozen joints — and the amount that determines a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor marijuana possession currently carries a possible maximum one-year jail sentence. Officers currently have the option not to arrest someone for minor-marijuana possession, but the misdemeanor charge would still bring a requirement to appear in criminal court. With a civil violation, the case wouldn’t enter the criminal system.
“It allows us to give someone a break,” Heyman said. “It doesn’t destroy somebody’s life because they smoked a joint at a concert, or had a pipe in their pocket.”
Officers in Miami-Dade would have the option to issue a citation or proceed with an actual arrest under the existing misdemeanor law. It’s part of a national effort to free-up police resources by moving minor marijuana arrests out of the criminal system.
“We helped draft and support this effort as a discretionary option for misdemeanor marijuana,” said Juan Perez, deputy director of the Miami-Dade Police…