Tampa looks at civil fines for marijuana possession


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Tampa officials are looking at fines for misdemeanor marijuana possession, rather than arrests and criminal charges.

The Tampa Tribune (http://goo.gl/tcxVfx ) reports that the city council voted 6-1 in favor of the move Thursday. The ordinance will have to make it through a second hearing March 17 before it goes to Mayor Bob Buckhorn for his signature.

The new ordinance would allow law enforcement officers to issue civil citations instead of filing criminal charges against people carrying 20 grams or less of marijuana. A first offense would result in a $75 fine. The fine would increase to $150 for a second offense, $300 for a third and $450 after that.

Florida law makes misdemeanor marijuana possession punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Several counties and cities throughout Florida have also passed similar measures.

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