Miami Beach Bans Public Consumption of Marijuana, Again

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Since July 1, Miami Beach officials have decided to no longer arrest people based solely on public consumption of marijuana. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Last week, Miami Beach commissioners unanimously agreed to ban smoking marijuana in public. The municipal ordinance goes into effect immediately, and punishment can be a fine up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.

Change of Heart

Miami Beach, next to Florida’s second-largest city, decriminalized marijuana earlier this year because of its indistinguishability from hemp. It only took four months for the city to realize this is problematic.

“We are a very progressive community. Medical marijuana passed here overwhelmingly,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “On the other hand, I know our residents expect a certain level of conduct.”

“Really during the high-impact weekends- for example, during spring break and Memorial Day weekend- our officers are very good at actually being able to go to people and have them pour out the open container without there being any additional incidents,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Rick Clements.

Public Opposition

In fact, Mayor Gelber has tried to criminalize marijuana ever since the legalization of marijuana back in July. Another side of the opposition includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida. They believe this new ban could potentially target young adults and people of color. Another issue the ACLU has with this new ban is the degree of punishment. They believe a simple fine will be enough to teach a lesson. 

“It’s not about freedom to smoke pot in public. It is that the city is making it a crime rather than a civil penalty and fine,” ACLU board member Jeff Hearne said in a statement to New Times. “We know it will be enforced disproportionately against young people of color. They will now have criminal records for something that should be akin to a parking ticket.”

It seems that America is slowly becoming more open to legalizing marijuana, but this proves otherwise. Indianapolis recently decided to no longer arrest people based on minor marijuana possession, but if they abuse that power they could lose it as well. Hopefully, the rest of the country sees the consequences of Miami Beach’s actions. 

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