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Palm Beach County Commissioners Vote 4-1 to Decriminalize Marijuana

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Assuring their citizens have the same civil liberties as those in Broward County, Key West, Hallandale Beach, and Miami-Dade County; on Tuesday the Palm Beach County Commissioners approved a motion by a 4 to 1 vote, officially decriminalizing the possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis.

The newly implemented law provides local law enforcement an alternative to the odious route of incarcerating individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana. Now, rather than being hauled off to jail, police catching individuals with less than 20 grams of weed will have the option to issue a $ 100 citation.

Provided an individual is incapable of paying off the citation, community service would be offered as an alternative.

The decriminalization issue was expected to pass after it received preliminary approval by the commissioners in October; unfortunately the final vote was rescheduled for December, providing extra time for the county commissioners to work out the ordinance’s language.

Palm Beach County Commissioner, Priscilla Taylor

Palm Beach County Commissioner, Priscilla Taylor

Priscilla Taylor, the County Commissioner who first proposed decriminalization explained the county’s new approach on weed to the Sun Sentinel.

“We have to understand that we cannot legislate and lock up everybody for everything they do.”

Looking to ease the overcrowding problem at the county jail, while protecting the lives of hard-working individuals, Taylor pointed to the carnage created by the old ordinance as the impetus for change.

Between 2010 and 2014, approximately 7,500 cases in Palm Beach County involved the possession of 20g of pot or less. In nearly 90% of those cases, the individual caught with their stash ended up incarcerated.

Palm Beach’s newest ordinance only applies to adults 18 and over. For those recidivists in the group, a cap of two pot citations would mean a third hit and you’re SOL.

(Photo Courtesy of Dope Magazine)

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