Drug War

Tampa City Council Votes to Decriminalize Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

Slouching toward progress

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Lin Fong/flickr

The city council in Tampa voted 5-1 to change possession of up to 20 grams (less than 3/4 of an ounce) of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a citable offense—with penalties starting at $75 and going up to $300 by the third offense.

Some critics of the move at last night's meeting wanted to keep possession a misdemeanor for repeat offenders. "Arrest is not the end of the world," one mother said, according to NBC 4 in Tampa. She said her daughter was sent to drug court. "When somebody is using a substance that is addictive and can be abused, just paying a fine is not going to help them," she told the council.

Drug courts have in recent years become one way for drug warriors to pre-empt legalization efforts. Anything, narcotic or otherwise, can be abused and addictive, but it's not the government's role to put people in cages or otherwise trap them in the legal system merely for their personal choices.

Even a $75 fine, let alone a $300 fine, can end up costing a lot more, up to and including people's freedom. The fines associated with non-arrestable offenses help drive policies of policing as revenue generation—adding marijuana to that isn't useful, and neither are drug courts, which plug into the same system and often include similar fines and other traps.

"I don't feel what we did today is different than what a lot of cities are doing and as a country as we're moving nationally," Councilwoman Lisa Montelione (District 7) said last night.

In Philadelphia, possession of up to 30 grams yields a $25—smoking in public is $100. Other cities and towns around the country have voted to try to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in their jurisdictions. Meanwhile, more than 17 million Americans live in states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized, albeit still regulated.

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  1. “When somebody is using a substance that is addictive and can be abused, just paying a fine is not going to help them,” she told the council.

    And what about when they’re using marijuana?

    1. Marijuana can be abused just like liquor can. Why, once I saw a guy carelessly spill a glass of good scotch.

      1. Why, once I saw a guy carelessly spill a glass of good scotch.

        I once saw a guy fill a Collins glass with ice, add a few ounces of Talisker, and then top it off with some Coca Cola!

        1. Good God. Just the ice would be enough for me to look at you funny.

    2. To be fair, I can get pissy whenever I have to quit smoking for a bit. That and mind shredding nightmares. But I’m sure there is worse things to have withdrawals from.

      1. I’ve also been known to get a bit snippy if I don’t have my daily after-work tokes, which you might call addiction.

        I have always been of the opinion, however, that “addiction” in-and-of-itself is not actually a problem – it’s the other problems that addictive behaviors can lead to that are actual problems. This applies as much to potato chips and dickish behavior as it does to consuming unauthorized substances.

        As Kinison once said (I paraphrase from memory) – if you have $50,000 for a drug treatment program, you don’t have a drug problem.

        1. We are of like mind than.

          I feel reflective and objective enough about my own actions to say, ‘of course I’m a bit addicted, I’ve been tokin’ just about every day for a decade.’ but so what? I got sober problems too. 99 problems in fact.

          What bothers me most of all about the drug war is I hold no ill will towards anyone but murderers and rapists; I’m a peace loving man who just wants to be free to sit quietly in that peace or if I am motivated to act it’s going to be to foster good for my friends, family, or community. I hate living as a criminal and a villain, a de facto enemy of the state.

          1. “I hate living as a criminal and a villain, a de facto enemy of the state.”

            This is the thing that makes me more angry than almost anything else. I am a very harmless person, and most people see me as a quite generous and valuable member of the community. But I also have to keep big secrets and cower in fear that one day my daughter will taken, I’ll lose my job, etc., etc., and why?

            Total madness.

        2. That’s the thing. If it isn’t fucking up your life, then what’s the problem? Maybe I’d be better off not smoking weed every day. But I think it works for me. I can fall asleep in less than an hour and spend a lot less time pissed off or stressed out.

          Some people certainly develop negative addictive behaviors around weed. But that has a lot more to do with people’s personalities than the drug itself.

      2. The vivid dreams are the best part about taking a pause in daily reefer smoking, if you ask me. But that might just be me. I’ve never had a dream that I’d call a nightmare.

        1. That happens for me to – if I go to bed without having smoked on a day, I’m borderline fully conscious in my dreams and remember them clearly when I wake up. Weird thing.

        2. Yeah I totally agree. I used to have a passing interest in oneirology, and I used to have very vivid dreams. I could even attain states of lucid dreaming where I would ‘awake’ in the dream and be able to wrest some measure of control over the dream. Not so much anymore, the herb dulls the dreaming state, I can attest to that. But yeah, I also would get nightmares from time to time when I take breaks. The vividness of the dreams come back with a force you forget that they were capable of.

  2. She said her daughter was sent to drug court. “When somebody is using a substance that is addictive and can be abused, just paying a fine is not going to help them,” she told the council.

    Ma’am, I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you’re a shitty parent and a horrible person.

    1. FYI, I’ve had a fair amount of good times with women who had shitty parenting.

      1. Yes, but we’re talking about a Florida Woman who has had shitty parenting. That’s a whole nother ball game.

        1. I’ve seen pictures of Miami Beach… this is sounding better by the minute.

          1. Bang Boat. Is that a thing yet?d

            1. It’s a thing, but they call it trafficking now.

              1. I’m thinking something like this, only with fucking.

            2. Bang Boat. Is that a thing yet?

              It is like you have never heard of Captain Stabbin.

              1. Ugh.. That moment when you understand a reference that just says so much about who you are as a person.

                1. Looks like SOMEBODY’S gonna be deleting his browser history as soon as he gets home!

                  1. Pros set that shit to auto delete every 5 min.

                    I imagine super pros just hard copy everything and store it on the DvD rack down in dungeon.

                2. Ugh.. That moment when you understand a reference that just says so much about who you are as a person.

                  IS THAT AN INSULT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

                  1. Only an insult to myself 😛

                    1. 5-10 years ago I had a friend who worked with, or knew, one of the Captain Stabbin guys, and I was introduced to him as “one of the guys from Captain Stabbin.” Sadly, I was familiar with his on-screen persona.

                    2. LOL. Man, it’d be a seriously let down to get introduced to someone in the industry only to have it be just the male talent. Though given how bad I am with strippers, I don’t think I’d have much to say to a porn star.

          2. All i’m saying is, be careful. Use protection and maybe a fake name.

    2. A fine won’t help, but being arrested and then paying a fine will? Not sure how that is supposed to work.

      1. She wants her daughter forced into drug treatment. She can’t force her daughter to live according to her whims, so she wants daddy government to make her mind.

        1. Even if you think that’s a good idea, wouldn’t the Portugal approach be a lot less potentially harmful?

          1. I’m not familiar with the Portugal method, but I assume you are correct.

            1. As I understand it, they have decriminalized possession of everything, including hard drugs, and offer treatment to people who are caught with hard drugs.

              1. The Netherlands has done that for a long time too. You can bring your drugs to the government in the Netherlands for purity testing, and they issue warnings when they come across bad batches of things.

  3. “The city council in Tampa voted 5-1 to change possession of up to 20 grams (less than 3/4 of an ounce) of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a citable offense?with penalties starting at $75 and going up to $300 by the third offense.”

    Step in the right direction, but poor people are still going to be fucked when they get hit with these fines. You’re living paycheck to paycheck and a $75.00 fine is nothing to sneeze at.

    1. …but poor people are still going to be fucked when they get hit with these fines.

      And poor little rich kids will think nothing of it. Seems that justice might better be served if the judge did the sentencing according to perceived hardship.

  4. Poke til ya choke
    choke til ya broke
    High til I die

  5. OK, I’ll be the third in a row to quoted this stupid woman.

    “When somebody is using a substance that is addictive and can be abused, just paying a fine is not going to help them,” she told the council.

    If a person is using and addictive drug and are, infact, addicted to said drug, even going to jail is not going to stop them. Standard punishments don’t work on addictive behaviours. That’s why they’re so hard to treat.

    1. I like claiming you’re trying to ‘help’ them.

      Yeah, clearly putting a criminal charge on their record and sending them to jail is a wonderful way to improve an addict’s life. I’m sure they’ll stop engaging in addictive behavior now that they spent six miserable months in a cage and can’t get a job.

      Hurr durr.

      1. I’d like to help their face into a car door.

      2. Right. Marking them for life will surely deter them in the future. Especially since addiction hurts so many other people rather than the addict himself. Maybe we should just send them to prison for most of their lives…oh wait.

        1. It’s a bullshit argument. Drug laws aren’t there to help the drug user. If it was about helping addicts it would treat casual drug users different than junkies.

          1. ^ This. It’s been known literally for decades that there are many, many, many more effective ways of actually *helping* addicts, and none of them involve prison, which invariably makes the problem worse.

  6. I take it back. We are clearly living in the Libertarian Moment. One day scholars will look back and say this is the time when the citizens of the USA looked around and decided that government had exceeded its mandate and was encroaching on our civil liberties and bankrupting us. And it all started with letting a few folks in Tampa carry a joint.

    1. Libertarian moment doesn’t mean libertarian sea change.

      I’m skeptical of the libertarian moment stuff too, but no one is really saying that a libertarian moment means we are heading for a libertarian future.

  7. So this is what Pro Liberate has been busy with.

  8. LOL how else are you gunna make sense out of Florida dude !

    http://www.fla.420smokeweederryday.us

    1. Your link is broken. Now where am I going to get my pot news?

      1. Talk to my boy Chaz behind the 7-11.

      1. Can’t see cuz the money’s in the way, look out!

  9. Arrest is not the end of the world…

    Tell that to [insert list of people who have died in police custody here].

    1. Resisting arrest could be the end of the world, Fist. Way to goose the narrative.

    2. Your point? Those people had it coming otherwise they wouldn’t have ended up in custody. All they had to do is respect police authority and they’d be fine, but these thugs refuse to do that, which is why the police are forced to put them down.

    3. That’s it! Somebody take Fist to the “chapel”.

  10. “Arrest is not the end of the world,” one mother said, according to NBC 4 in Tampa. She said her daughter was sent to drug court. “When somebody is using a substance that is addictive and can be abused, just paying a fine is not going to help them,” she told the council.

    People actually think like this… sad.

  11. Why does Tampa have a law about possession, other than to generate a cash flow?

    1. Squirlz

      As I was saying…

      What about state law?

      1. WTF?

  12. Why should an Adult be punished in any way for choosing to use a substance that is safer than tobacco, alcohol and most Rx. drugs ? Adults should be free to grow what they want to grow.

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