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Leon County Commissioners make plans to discuss decriminalizing marijuana in March

Posted at 7:27 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 19:27:35-05

TALLAASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County could change how people caught with a small amount of marijuana are handled.

County Commissioners are now preparing to focus on two key topics as it relates to weed and the county.

The main goal is to weigh alternatives to incarceration for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

But commissioners warn that although they'll discuss it, it's not a change you can expect to see in the coming weeks or even months.

Commissioners will focus on how marijuana possession impacts the detention center population as well as the other ways to respond to simple possession.

Leon County will have a workshop on March 22 to focus on those elements, digging into statistics inside the detention center and law enforcement reports.

In Tuesday night's commission meeting, a citizen proposed including ordinances to allow getting rid of drug testing for jobs and expungement.

"Expungement is a state-level issue. I believe we can discuss it if we get some kind of agreement from the state attorney's office that's dealt with first-time offenders of less than 20 grams, instead of putting them into a diversion program," said Commissioner Carolyn Cummings.

Commission Chairman Bill Proctor voiced his concern over a change to drug testing at jobs.

"I'm not sure how I feel about that because there are some jobs that people need to go pee in a cup and we need to know that they're straight. Like pilots, I want them to be clean," he said.

The cost of getting caught with weed is a recurring conversation.

In 2019, the commission considered allowing those with small amounts of marijuana to be given a civil citation, instead of being charged with a misdemeanor at the officer's discretion.

It failed on a three to three vote.

Right now, if you're caught, that means jail time.

Trish Brown is a member of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee. TCAC has fought to bring about changes to some weed charges. She added that now is a time to revisit those charges as more dispensaries pop up around Tallahassee.

"We see these dispensaries and the people prospering. Why can't the people in jail who know about that not be able to prosper as well," she said.

Brown said she wants to see those arrested and in jail freed if weed is their only offense.

Commissioner Kristin Dozier said change may not be easy, as this issue is also federal and statewide. That means larger legislation could hold more impact than what happens at the county level.