Possessing misdemeanor amounts of marijuana in Miami-Dade County could bring a $100 fine instead of a criminal charge under a new proposal backed by police brass, reports the Miami Herald. County Commissioner Sally Heyman is sponsoring the plan, part of a larger change to how the county classifies offenses that tend to ensnare low-income residents, like theft of shopping carts and loitering. If approved, the ordinance would allow officers to issue a civil citation to someone carrying less than 20 grams of marijuana, enough for 35 joints.
Misdemeanor marijuana possession currently carries a maximum one-year jail sentence. Officers now have the option not to arrest someone for minor-marijuana possession, but the misdemeanor charge would still bring a requirement to appear in criminal court. With a civil violation, the case wouldn't enter the criminal system. “It allows us to give someone a break,” Heyman said. The proposal goes before a commission committee next week. If it passes, the full 13-member commission would take it up later in the summer.