Daytona Beach delays vote to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana

FOX 35 News at 10 p.m.

- The City of Daytona Beach decided to delay a plan to decriminalize small amounts of pot.  Commissioners decided to vote first on specific language the ordinance, but once that's done, they do plan move forward with a proposal to issue citations for small amounts of marijuana -- under 20 grams.

Daytona Beach is the latest city in Central Florida to start the process of decriminalizing small amounts of pot, something Police Chief Mike Chitwood says his officers have already been doing.  "We have always given our officer -- for years -- the ability if you come across somebody with under 20 grams of marijuana, and that's the only charge and they've never been arrested before, based on the totality of the circumstances you can issue an ordinance violation."

The City Commission now wants the city ordinance to match the police department's policy.  Commissioners held off on approving the first reading of the ordinance, opting to revise the language, so that is only applies to first-degree misdemeanors under 20 grams and not any other offenses.   "That's the only thing it effects," said Chitwood.  "It's a misdemeanor of the first degree; that's the only one.  You're still going to be arrested and go to jail for other misdemeanors of the first degree like DUI and battery."

The chief told commissioners the goal is to try to avoid putting juveniles and first time offenders in the system.  Instead of criminal charges, they would pay a fine.  "You have a college student that comes here, and he gets banged with under 20 grams of marijuana is really necessary to have the kid have a misdemeanor first degree on his record."

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