FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12th, 2016
Carlos Guillermo Smith calls for statewide marijuana decriminalization
Democratic candidate proposes mandatory civil citations for minor offenses
ORLANDO, FL - Days after the City of Orlando passed an ordinance to de-prioritize minor marijuana offenses, Florida House District 49 candidate Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) called for full statewide decriminalization legislation to be introduced during the 2017 legislative session in an email to supporters. Orlando is the most recent among a growing list of Florida cities and counties that have passed similar ordinances, building momentum for support of a statewide bill.
During public testimony for the Orlando ordinance, Smith pledged to file his own legislation dealing with full marijuana decriminalization if elected to the Florida House in November. "We need to keep these minor offenses out of our criminal justice system entirely, which is why I'm prepared to introduce a new statewide law that requires law enforcement to issue mandatory civil citations to those found with 20 grams of marijuana or less ." said Smith.
Unlike Orlando's ordinance which allows law enforcement the discretion to issue a civil citation or make arrests for marijuana possession, Smith's proposal would prohibit arrests for minor offenses.
"This is not a radical idea," said Smith. "Florida's criminal justice system is broken, we need to start fixing it, and we need to stop throwing minorities in jail for minor marijuana offenses."
As Florida's mismanaged prisons continue to overflow, our state spends as much as $229 million annually to enforce marijuana possession laws. The result is up to 58,000 arrests per year representing up to 41% of all drug related arrests.
"We need to be creating opportunity for people to succeed-- not creating obstacles and ruining lives over minor infractions or youthful indiscretions. Dumb prohibition laws like these are not only misguided and wrong, but they are an expensive long-term burden on taxpayers that Florida cannot afford. " - Carlos Guillermo Smith
Smith made headlines last week, after becoming the first House candidate in Orange County to qualify for the ballot by petition, and announcing top fundraising numbers and new campaign staff.
The campaign has started an online petition in support of the proposed legislation.
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