Since the decriminalization of hemp in Miami, many minor Marijuana charges have been dropped or will no longer be prosecuted. Though hemp has been decriminalized, public officials have taken to banning the use of cannabis and hemp in public, since hemp and cannabis are practically indistinguishable. The city has opted to make smoking cannabis in public a criminal offense rather than using a civil citation system, which could result in the arrests of more youth and people of color. The ACLU, among other organizations, opposed the new law because of its criminal charges, claiming it should be akin to a traffic ticket.
According to Miami Beach Times, “Under the city’s new law, anyone observed smoking cannabis, hemp, or marijuana on a public right-of-way is subject to a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in county jail.” Before this the Miami Beach police had no real precedent for dealing with public cannabis consumption. Citing a specific incident, “During Columbus Day weekend, we had an individual that chose to stand on top of a police vehicle while openly consuming marijuana,” Miami Beach Capt. Daniel Morgalo stated. “So had that individual not been doing that — had he not been standing on top of the police vehicle and breaking other laws — we would not have a mechanism in place at this point to deal with this specific type of behavior.”
With Miami being such a party destination, it will be interesting to see how it unfolds (and whether or not they’d actually be able to enforce them) and how tourists will react to the new laws.